Mr PEARSON (Essendon)-

Speaker, as I have remarked previously in this place, times of great challenge and hardship bring people together and inspire them to act in solidarity with their family, friends and communities.

We are always at our best when we work together.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought public health emergency and economic challenge to our state, our country and our world, the likes of which we have not seen for decades.

It is clear from the daily updates that the number of coronavirus infections is on a downward trajectory. Speaker, I know we all look forward to taking the next step on the road map to reopening our economy and our state in a cautious fashion, cognisant always of the advice of our public health experts.

I acknowledge and express my gratitude to all who live and work in the state district of Essendon for their cooperation and their patience as we have responded to the many challenges COVID-19 has brought. Across my community, locals have shown much resilience, ingenuity and kindness, and I want to thank them for that. Keep going!

I make particular mention of the residents of the housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne. The lockdown of the housing towers in July was a difficult decision, but it was the right one. The alternative would have resulted in the virus spreading, endangering the lives of so many vulnerable and valued members of our community. That was just not acceptable.

I want to thank the residents for their patience, their resilience and for working with the government. Sadly, the communities in the housing towers have lost much-loved elders, and we grieve for their losses.

We should be proud, too, of the way partner organisations came together with community leaders and government to deliver services and support for residents of the towers. Their collaboration and solidarity made a difficult time for many a lot better.

I want to record my gratitude to the many community leaders, volunteers, community agencies, the SES, the MFB and the Moonee Valley Council team for their work.

In August, I was delighted to welcome the Minister for Community Sport, Ros Spence MP, to the Flemington community to announce funding of $5 million from the Andrews Labor government toward the Flemington Hub and Debney’s Park project. This project will deliver much-needed sporting and recreation facilities to a community that are so happy to have them.

Speaker, as we take tentative steps to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, I will be continuing to proudly support all of my community in the state district of Essendon.