OPINION

Pat Conaghan MP: 'We must look out for each other to get through these next six months'

With the exception of those older Australians who lived through the great wars and depression, none of us have ever experienced this kind of nation-wide challenge.

The coronavirus that is sweeping the world will continue to change the way we live. With this in mind, I think we should look at our past to determine our future, and in doing so we should embrace and replicate the strength and resilience of our history and doggedness of the Australian character.

Our older Australians justifiably wear as a badge of honour the years of sacrifice and suffering they endured. They can do so because they lived through those years with dignity, decorum and mateship. They maintained community values and looked out for each other particularly when the days were at their darkest. They worked together, not as individuals. They had each other's backs and let no one fall behind.

We have not lost that Aussie spirit. It lies just beneath the surface waiting for us all to call on it again to gather in unity and strength so that in years to come we will be able to look back and be proud of ourselves and proud as Australians that we have confronted and conquered this tough time together.

I know and I am saddened by the fact many people in our community are starting to suffer physically and financially due to this global virus. People will lose their jobs. Businesses will struggle and some will close. Our front line workers are going to be placed under great strain.

This is why, now, we must do all we can to slow the spread of the coronavirus. I urge everyone to take seriously the need to practice good hygiene and keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others. Be gracious in giving up social activities like going to the gym, pub for a drink at the bar, or your local café to eat in - these enhanced measures will slow the spread of the virus and save lives.

We are doing all we can to cushion the blow on Australians from the biggest economic shock our nation has faced in generations. I thank the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg for delivering, with the support of both sides of parliament, a major support package worth $189 billion, around 10 per cent of the size of our economy.

Now, more than ever, we must look out for each other to get through these next six months. Check in with your family, friends and neighbours. Support local business. Businesses support your staff and everyone in the community support each other. Because, after all, that is the Australian way.

To learn more about the economic support package visit https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus

For specific measures for business in response to the coronavirus visit https://www.business.gov.au/

For assistance for individuals visit https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au

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