OPINION

Steering a slow and gradual course on COVID-19 reopening

Steering a slow and gradual course on COVID-19 reopening

We are all very excited about the slow and gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

There is of course no choice, the point has arrived at which the harm being done by lockdowns outweighs the risks involved in opening up.

But the risks for our local communities are greater than for our city cousins. While Sydney's vaccination rates continue to soar, our own remain threateningly low. That is particularly true for our young people who were denied MRNA vaccines for far too long. But the mistakes and missteps of governments in Canberra and Sydney are in the past.

We can now only look forward and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are becoming more and more accessible. I again encourage readers who haven't already done so, to secure two jabs. Further, please encourage others to do so too.

I remain particularly concerned about those who work in hospitality, events and like sectors who will soon be heavily exposed to Sydney visitors.

Many of these are young workers who have been unable to secure the vaccines the experts recommend for them. We desperately need our visitors back so let's do everything possible to make their return a fruitful, happy, and permanent one.

Energy's important role

The current energy crisis in Europe is a complex one with a mix of causes but notwithstanding, it's a reminder of the important role energy plays in our lives and our economy, and how crucial it is that governments get energy policy right.

We all want a cleaner economy and we are developing one. Rapidly actually. But we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater by rushing the process. Particularly when we are such a small global emitter. Government policies over the last decade or more have provided wind and solar generation with an economic advantage over coal and that now threatens to lead to the early closure of our coal generators.

That's bad news for all of us because if they close earlier than their physical lives dictate, we won't be ready, and the lights will go off and our industries will grind to a close. The time will come when renewable forms of generation will be capable of delivering all of our energy supplies but that day is still a long way off.

This is why the Energy Security Board has recommended government introduce a policy to make electricity retailers pay the coal generators for the capacity and security they provide to the electricity grid. There are things we can learn from the experiences of our friends in the UK and Europe.

It's business as usual for now 

Since I announced my decision not to contest the next federal election I've been overwhelmed by messages of thanks and goodwill. I say thank you again.

I've also had a few nasties, but that's politics. I long ago learned that if you're not offending a few, you are not doing or saying much!

Anyway, many have asked whether I'm now retired. The answer is no. I remain your Federal MP until the next election. That could still be seven months away. So until then, I will continue to represent our electorate with just as much energy and determination. My staff too, will continue to serve. So, it's business as usual in the Fitzgibbon office.

Joel Fitzgibbon is the Member for Hunter