Whilst writing this, and looking at the pictures pre-COVID, I cannot believe it has been only 3 weeks since our whole world, and way of living has changed as a result of this virus. Already how much we miss each other, and not being able to ‘hug’ residents, especially those in great duress, is truly hard. Be assured that I am saving them up for when we get to the other side, so watch out!
During this time, we have endeavoured to tackle the current situation from two angles, the now, and the future. We keep a running list of all issues brought to us, regardless of the level of government. We address what we can and provide as much support as possible to constituents but also communicate with our local council and federal members where necessary. Thankfully as a result of the enormous efforts of all levels of government, our original list a fortnight ago of 29 essentials including the necessary safety nets for employers and employees, has reduced to 10 needing solutions. At the time of writing, these include the agreements between commercial tenants and landlords, the fine print in the mortgage deferral agreements, and criteria for business assistance. Yes, I hear you, these are not a State MP’s realm, however these are unprecedented times. If it is impacting our residents, there should be no barriers or ‘territories’ involved!

Secondly, we are also looking to the future, as once the lockdown is lifted, there will be hundreds of thousands of people across Queensland and Australia, looking to celebrate through a weekend or week away, and where do you think they would like to come? We are looking at many measures needed to ensure our vital businesses and industry can restart and hit the ground running with minimal delay.

 

From the Chamber and beyond

As many will be aware, the suspension of Parliament at both State (until April 28) and Federal (Aug 11) levels, has caused letters of concern from residents. Governments in times of disaster, and previously war, have suspended Parliament to concentrate on the task at hand. Even though it is frustrating for communities and MPs that non-COVID related issues are held in ‘limbo’ for the time being, be assured that as soon as the crisis period is over, we will see those outcomes we have been fighting for including our Sunshine Coast University Hospital transport pilot. As well, get back to debating those Bills of importance, that even though not COVID related, have been very much on Queenslanders’ minds, including the Voluntary Euthanasia Inquiry recommendations, which have just been released.

Pre-COVID, it was wonderful to welcome our ‘first’ dedicated Maritime Safety Queensland Officer Jake and speak at International Women’s Day events across the electorate. The greatest gift, which seems a lifetime ago, was the famous Q & A session with our St Thomas More Year 6 students. Nourishment in more ways than one!

On the homefront

Pre-COVID, meeting with some of our very grass roots organisations was very welcomed. To see not only the work they do and the way they do it, but also the driving forces behind. Both Andy from Invisible Injuries, and Renee from Reset Support Service, work in realms many of us never see, but which impact our friends, families and communities, and I thank them, and all who are making a real difference.

Since COVID, people power has come into force! YELLOWt, formed to provide a people-driven support network, street by street across the electorate. With over 1,000 already part of this ‘army’, to have these dedicated households on hand, similar to Neighbourhood Watch, is not only invaluable for those in our community who need information or help, but as a ‘backup’ for when our organisations need reserves. In addition, Hospital Heroes are providing sustenance for our hospital teams, and those that came to our call for hand sanitiser, masks, and the manning of hotlines to assist our businesses. Noosa, you rock in more ways than many would ever realise, and how deeply we appreciate the efforts of all during this time in battling this bug.

Grants and Funding Announcements

Due to the current situation many clubs and schools are facing, we have been re-evaluating our current MP Funding grants to assist those most in need, as well provide ‘seed’ funding for response initiatives. Updates at: www.sandybolton.com/mp-funding-partnerships/

For current grant opportunities see the QLD Government Grant Finder or Grants Guru.

From the Grapevine

Our inboxes have never overflowed to the volume that COVID has brought, and it has been a ‘round the clock’ effort to get back to everyone within an acceptable timeframe, the most urgent requests within hours.
The situation was not improved by the angst around the local government elections, and as I outlined in my daily update on Facebook, I have written to the Premier to request fines not be issued due to the frustrations and inability in getting through on the telephone voting line and delays for postal votes. Included in that letter was also a series of recommendations to address these issues to ensure this is not replicated at the next election only 5 months away, especially given that we may still be recovering from COVID. These recommendations have also incorporated the ongoing concerns surrounding the use of marketing paraphernalia such as corflutes.
Sadly in social media there has been angry words between ‘posters’, and I have asked residents not to take part in arguments on and offline regarding this pandemic, or election outcomes. Diversity of views are always welcome, and important, however when it turns to the personal attacks that I have seen, it is detrimental to those in the conversation, and the broader community. For clarity, if you believe someone is in quarantine, and breaking quarantine, call the police. If you encounter those not abiding by the ‘1.5’, give them a gentle reminder by a ‘High 5 – Remember the 1.5’. If you see public gatherings, campers or other activities mandated as illegal, alert the police.
There is so much more I could report on, including the lag in verification and tracer alerts in relation to local confirmed cases, however I believe in response to my, and the Local Disaster Management Groups requests, this has been rectified. With the huge volume of information hourly and daily, to avoid ‘spamming’ you, I post a daily summary on our MP Facebook page ‘Sandy Bolton MP’, as well Noosa 360, so please join me there if you can?

COVID-19 ASSISTANCE LINKS

STATE GOVERNMENT SUPPORT – 13 43 25 84
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORT – 1800 020 080
NOOSA COUNCIL COVID SUPPORT – 5329 6500
CENTRELINK – 132 850
CORONAVIRUS HEALTH NATIONAL INFORMATION LINE – 1800 020 080
TELEHEALTH – 1800 066 888
COMMUNITY RECOVERY HOTLINE – 1800 173 349
AUSTRALIAN RED CROSS – 1800 733 276
LIFELINE – 13 11 14
THE SALVATION ARMY – 13 72 58
ST VINCENT DE PAUL – 1800 846 643
ECQ – 1300 881 665

Parliamentary Speeches and Questions

All speeches can be viewed on my website here. If searching on the Qld Parliamentary website go to: Members Speeches then select Ms Sandy Bolton.
Community Based Sentences – Parliamentary Debate Speech – 20 Feb 2020

Recent Questions on Notice (QONs) can be found here on the Parliament page on my website.

Have Your Say

Please note that some public consultations may be suspended at this time. To see all areas open for community consultation click here.

Office Reminders

As of Wednesday 25th March, in accordance with the directive of Parliamentary Services, access to the Electorate Office has been limited to staff only. Even though you will not be able to sit down face-to-face with us, we are always available online or by phone.
Email: noosa@parliament.qld.gov.au
Phone: 07 5319 3100
Please leave a message if phone lines are busy as we action our messages as a priority.

Photocopying services, marquee and trailer hire are not available during this time.

Connect – Our monthly newsletters can be viewed by clicking here, and stay updated by ‘liking’ our Facebook page. Monthly columns are in Noosa News and Noosa TodayCoolum Advertiser  as well quarterly in the Cooroy Rag, Forest Star and Cooroora Connect. In NOOSA 360 at SandyBolton.com you will find helpful links, as well current bills and committee reports. #stayinformed

Mobile office

Mobile offices will be postponed until further directives.

And finally…

My days? Working on the ‘gaps’, existing or newly identified, attending virtual meetings, ensuring everyone has as much information as possible to access every assistance they may need. Interviews and teleconferences – whether that be with Jeanette Young, Chief Health Officer, who took time to answer Crossbenchers’ questions – or with our businesses, police and other frontliners, and the Local Disaster Management Group.

Our new Business Roundtable, formed in conjunction with Noosa Council, State Departments and representatives from our business organisations meets weekly to address issues, formulate strategy and source solutions. These include connecting excess produce to buyers, as we are doing with local fishermen and women, so they and their boats can head back to work.

By night, updates daily via Facebook, columns, and other media, as every hour and day, there are important changes and alerts as part of battling this virus. Answering questions on and offline, calling residents who are in distress, and working on the future. And tackling the inbox! During this time, how proud I am to be your MP, and appreciative of the work of all levels of Government, how without a template as we have for other disasters, are doing a sterling job. We are all learning so much and will come out the other side of COVID-19 more resilient, knowledgeable and caring as a society, a community and as individuals. As well, improvements to our Government systems and frameworks, including elections (hopefully!)

Until next month, a reminder of the most basic ‘things’ to remember. Stay at home. If out for essential purposes, keep to 1.5m, and only hang with one ‘date’. As I said in a FB update, pooches are not considered a ‘date’, so take them all!  And if you have any questions, call me. I would much rather you have the right information, than doing something that may put yourself or others at risk, or as I said on radio and in media today, end up receiving a fine for non-compliance. We have an incredible community of caring, dedicated and selfless people. How very fortunate we are, and I cannot imagine anywhere I would rather be during a ‘lock down’.

Look after each other, and blessings to all. On the other side of COVID, a reminder to avoid me, as I have saved up all the hugs I have not been able to give out over this time, and will be sharing ‘ferociously’!!😊

Sandy