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Editorial March 6th 2020

Welcome to this week’s editorial, First there were fires, then came the floods. Once these had passed we all sighed in relief and laughed at what might come next. Some predicted plagues of locusts. In jest, others speculated that it might be pestilence. Little did they realise at the time how right they would be. During the fires we were effectively cut off from the rest of the world on several occasions. The following rains also played at severing our transport connections with flooded roads and rockslides. We bemoaned our isolation. We felt the repercussions of reduced food and fuel supplies. We experienced the major detours required to attend medical appointments in Canberra, Nowra or Sydney . We were isolated from the tourism influx that brought with it our annual economic prosperity and vital dollars to support the many family owned businesses reliant on the Summer spend. Once the roads re-opened we rejoiced, announcing to the world we were “Open for Business” and to come on down. To support the message we developed campaigns, invited National media and pushed every avenue to gain National attention. The South East NSW was in the limelight, spread across the news and social media feeds. We gained more than our 15 minutes of fame. Tourism was returning and the much needed tourist dollars began to flow once again, to employ and to prosper. But then came the pestilence that we had laughingly cast aside as the next possible calamity to hit the region. Initially it was somebody else’s problem. China was a long way away and the numbers affected back then were small. Though it was disconcerting to learn there was no cure we weren’t overly perturbed . We had seen it before with SARS and we had come away unscathed. But then things took a bad turn and all of a sudden we heard that AUSTRALIANS were affected. Australian travellers. We then learnt of other nations having cases and it hit home that there were going to be Australian’s returning home from CoVid19 areas. Our first response was to quarantine them. To lock them away in isolation for two weeks just in case. Meanwhile more and more Australian’s have set off to travel and just as many have returned home from overseas. Next we learn that carriers can have it without showing symptoms and some have arrived under the radar. Now we have communities, schools and workplaces facing lockdowns as the virus spreads across the country and the planet. People are concerned. People are scared. And some are panicked into survivor mode. The panic buying we are now seeing of face masks, food items, sanitisers and toilet rolls has taken the limelight off the “Open for Business” campaign and replaced it with a newer, more media hungry distraction that is sending ripples across the country and the planet. This weekend is the Canberra Long Weekend and we will see an influx of visitors who were encouraged to #BringAnEmptyEsky. While they might remember to do so most should now be more concerned about toilet paper supplies in their AirBnB. #BringAnEmptyEsky has morphed into #BringyourDunnyroll. And now many are wishing our highways were closed again; returning us to a haven of isolation from the world outside. Until next—Lei

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