8th April 2020

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:09): I, too, rise to make a plea to the public of South Australia and those visitors who would normally travel to the great River Murray, one of the great destinations. I am sure that many people in this chamber alone have at some point in time holidayed or travelled up to the River Murray in one way, shape or form for a great experience, whether that is to the river, to Lake Bonney, to some of the beautiful pristine environment, or to visit some of the fantastic wetlands. These are some of the greatest experiences in our lifetime, particularly of our childhood.

However, I would like to express my concern as the member for Chaffey to those people who are intending to make their way to the Riverland over the Easter break and over the school holidays: please stay home. Reconsider your plans. Change your plans and make sure that, if you are intending to take a break, please take it at home with your family. It is a time we have never seen before. It is a precedent that very few of us have ever seen in our lifetime.

We talk about the world wars and how very different the world wars were from what we are experiencing today. Back then, people went offshore, they went away from their homes and they went to other countries to represent their country and fight for peace. They fought for various different reasons, but here we have the COVID-19 virus at our front door. We have the COVID-19 experience in every way, shape or form in terms of our social activities and our way of life, and that is why the plea to every visitor who is considering going out into the regions of South Australia is: please delay your travel plans, delay your holiday.

Those beautiful regions will be there for another day. They will be there for your family to experience and to enjoy to make those life-lasting memories of going to some of our beautiful landscapes and our beautiful watercourses, and the Riverland is no exception. I have seen a number of people already show contempt for the direction. They have come up a week early, two weeks early. They have set up camps. They have set up their caravans. They have set up their facilities like they are going to stay there for a month.

What really worries me is that the direction from the senior public health officers, from our State Coordinator, from our Premier, from all the state's leaders, and this chamber is no exception, is there for the public safety of South Australia, and that public safety call is for every person to stay at home. Enjoy an experience with your family at home to reduce the risk of contamination, to reduce the risk of that virus impacting on someone else's life—someone close to you, someone far away.

We have seen what contamination can mean for those people who are independent of a public space, whether it has been walking into a common place—a cellar door, a shop, a workplace—or into a place to which people have been who have travelled from overseas or interstate, and the impact it is having on those lives, those numbers of people who have tested positive to COVID-19, those people who have become very sick and who are now relying very heavily on our public health system.

To those people who have been impacted and who have lost their lives, my condolences to those families, but it is a reflection of why there is an ask for people to stay at home over this holiday period. I would say that those people who have planned to come up to the river corridor, those people who have set up in some of the most pristine beautiful places on earth: please reconsider and stay at home.

To the many, many people who have contacted me, the constituents of Chaffey, I have listened and I am acting. I have put significant effort into public messaging, as I am doing right now in the South Australian parliament, and the message is very, very loud and clear. The Premier, the State Coordinator and the senior health officers have given these directions, these recommendations, for a very clear purpose—that is, to save lives and to save South Australia from being further contaminated by COVID-19.

speeches feature