As the tens of thousands of volunteers at our winter sports start to pull down the shutters of the canteen, wash and pack away the jumpers and find a way to sell-out the last of the chips and lollies, it is a terrific time to think about how important they are.
Being a volunteer at any sport always requires hours and hours and hours of time given and spent making it possible for the sport to happen. And in season 2020, these volunteers also had to become health specialists, social distancing police and the keepers of COVID registers. What an incredible season!
Season 2020 has also been tough for the athletes who thrive at the weekend sport event. Some are interested in the friends and laughs and general good time, while others are far more into the competition of it all, both of which are great for our mental health.
And then there are the mums and dads and the grandparents and family and friends. Most of these have been "locked out" this season, for everyone's safety, and it has undoubtedly been difficult to miss the regular weekend sport events.
So please, take on board the thanks of our entire community in all that you have all done this season and all of the sacrifices that you have made. Without you and your willingness to respect the health crisis that we are all trying to live with, our winter sport season would never have been able to go ahead. Thank you all.
It would be impossible to not have noticed the masses of tourist traffic that have filled the roads and carparks of the Hunter over recent months. By Friday mornings the M1 is spilling thousands of tourists into our region. Cafés, supermarkets, accommodation and restaurants all fill very quickly.
There is no doubt that this all poses a COVID risk, but currently, with COVID numbers being quite low in NSW, that risk is minimal and the benefits are quite significant. Tourism is a key part of our economy and while tourism is operating and thriving then our locals can be busily and happily at work, making a quid that ultimately gets spent back into our local businesses.
There may well come a time in the not too distant future when this tourism is switched off again, as it was back in March-June. This would be devastating for local businesses and their employees and the families that rely on these income streams.
But for now, let's just manage the COVID risk, operate and work safely and hope that the current mayhem survives for quite some time. Makes me wonder if we really do want the borders to reopen and lose all of that tourism traffic to our interstate markets.
- Clayton Barr is the State Member for Cessnock. Contact his office on (02) 4991 1466 or via claytonbarr.com.au.