COVID, tourism, footy and roads
Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:59): I rise today to talk about a number of things that have been occurring in the electorate of Flinders. I would like to start with COVID, particularly given that it is just 12 months now since COVID arrived on our doorstep and it is almost 12 months, coming up on 17 March, when a community meeting was called in my local football clubrooms. I chaired that meeting. Unfortunately, we discovered later that same day that one of the attendees had tested positive to COVID.
The repercussions were significant but not so significant that anyone contracted COVID. Of course, we were dealing with an unknown situation. On 17 March, it was very early days of COVID. As a precaution, all the 200 people who attended that meeting at the football club, including some who shared the microphone—and I take responsibility for that as I was chairing the meeting and the microphone went around—and their extended family members all self-isolated. I think a good portion of the Eyre Peninsula population needed to go into isolation after that, but, that said, no-one was infected with COVID.
I want to congratulate the Premier and the government in this state on the handling of the COVID situation. Through a lot of good management and a bit of good luck, we have managed to avoid the worst repercussions of this, not to say that it has not had an effect. Some of the effects have been positive in regional areas. What we have seen on Eyre Peninsula particularly is an increase in regional tourism.
Easter did not happen at all in many ways. Those tourist destinations and businesses that cater for tourists had a very lean Easter, but by the time the June long weekend came around they were looking at a very busy tourist season and that extended right through the rest of last year, over the Christmas holidays and my guess is that it will last right through until Easter. Towns such as Streaky Bay, Tumby Bay, Coffin Bay, Port Lincoln and others as well certainly saw an upsurge in regional tourism and that was good to see. It put a bit of a strain on some of the facilities and pressure on the capacity of communities to deal with that, but in the end it was for a short time only and we have learnt from that.
Some of the other repercussions of course during last year were the impacts on local events, and I want to talk particularly about the key sports in many country areas. Certainly, on Eyre Peninsula the key sports are football and netball. We all know and understand how critically important these competitive sports are—team-based sports, town-based sports—to our community life and our social activities in the country.
There are a number of leagues on Eyre Peninsula and all bar one chose not to play competitive sport last year. There was competitive sport in Port Lincoln. The Port Lincoln Football A League played almost a usual competition. One side elected not to field teams and that was Mallee Park. Throughout the rest of Eyre Peninsula, there was no football played. Some players chose to go down into Port Lincoln and play football, and of course the much-loved, long-running football competition, the Mortlock Shield, usually hosted on the June long weekend, did not eventuate.
My hope is that sport can return to some sort of normality this year. I will talk about this again in the future when some of the changes that are mooted really come to fruition, but there will be changes within the structure of Eyre Peninsula football and netball. By that I mean that there has certainly been an amalgamation of at least one side that I am aware of. That particular team has elected to move to a different league.
That will result in impacts on the league that they are leaving, and there are other exploratory conversations going on between other clubs about where they might be playing. We will see how that unfolds, but I am looking forward to sports returning to normal.
Very quickly, and on the back of the member for Stuart’s contribution, we are really excited about the extra funding coming into roads. We have seen work on the Tod Highway, the Birdseye Highway—that is ongoing—the Eyre Highway is ongoing, and there has been an increase in funding from the feds. We are looking forward to getting passing lanes on the western approach road into Port Lincoln and the Lincoln Highway. I will keep the parliament posted.