By Michael Giles
THERE’S always business owners and workers who fall through the cracks when government sets boundaries on restrictions and support.
But it seems, to the operator of Voyage Fitness in Wonthaggi and Leongatha, Jake Wright, that his business and his staff are always on the wrong side of the ledger.
While warmly praising his customers for turning up in the cold and rain this morning for a vigorous, outdoor session, he says it’s simply not fair.
“Everyone still turned up in the rain this morning but the fact that there’s a 1000sqm gym sitting there that would be the cleanest business in town with all sanitised stations and people walking around with sanitising spray, is just criminal,” said an exasperated Jake Wright today.
“I really want to make it clear, I’m 100 per cent for all other businesses opening today but why can beauty salons open and not us? Why can religious gatherings have people inside in groups of 50 and we can’t open up?
“We have staff members that won’t see a cent for two weeks as we are not in a hot spot.”
Lifting restrictions on gyms in regional areas is a matter for the State Government and we have put the question to local MP Jordan Crugnale, who is following it up on behalf of the staff at Voyage Fitness.
But local Federal MP, Russell Broadbent, has come out hard against his own government colleagues, in favour of people like Jake and his staff, for not supporting them in the ‘National Lockdown Framework” package of $500 weekly for those affected by lockdowns, but only after seven days.
It won’t apply to regional Victoria, because it’s coming out of stricter lockdown today and so hasn’t been designated a Commonwealth hotspot.
“I think it’s not fair on country people that are affected by the lockdown. It’s a noble idea but why punish people when they get caught up in lockdown, not of their own making, and then exclude them from the help because they say it’s not a federal hotspot,” Mr Broadbent said today.
But doesn’t the government have to draw the line somewhere? He was asked on ABC Radio this morning.
“Yes but federal support should be open to all affected Australians that fit the criteria. I don’t like to see a divide between city and country and Australian against Australian.”
He said some people in regional Victoria, even though restrictions were easing would still be affected by the fact that greater Melbourne is in lockdown.
“Absolutely they will, it won’t be in the 1000s, but there’ll be a lot of people though in regional areas, I represent regional people, everybody gets wet when it rains, not just those in the eye of the storm.”
Mr Broadbent said punishing people twice by being impacted by lockdown was simply unfair.
“When they get caught up in the lockdown like this, especially as I say not of their own making, and are excluded from help when we’re just saying they have to come from a hotspot area.
“If you’re affected you’re affected.”
Mr Broadbent said later that while he applauded the Prime Minister for responding, principally to Victoria at this stage, he said everyone affected should be eligible for support regardless of where they lived.
And representing an urban interface electorate, he is seeing both sides.
Asked by the Sentinel-Times about the position Jake Wright finds himself in today, Mr Broadbent offered his support.
“That’s exactly what I am on about. It’s not going to be 1000s but there are people in regional areas missing out because of this and it’s not fair.”
Mr Broadbent said he had already taken the issue up with his government colleagues and would continue to pursue the matter on behalf of the people of Monash and regional Australia.