When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Opinion piece published in The Examiner, 6 April 2020 (available here).

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

This wise old saying has been lived out by our forefathers in our community for centuries during droughts, floods, wars, and depression. And it’s being lived out again by most of us in 2020 as we face the coronavirus and its impact.

Lives cut short, liberties curtailed, jobs destroyed, retirements shattered, livelihoods and plans marooned, and economies demolished are just some of the stark realities we face.

The far-reaching and exceptional consequences for the lives of our fellow Australians have been brought home by the legion of inquiries I’ve received this past fortnight.

Issues ranging in no particular order:

  •          How to bring home loved ones from the four corners of the world;
  •          How to apply for the support provisioned through the taxpayer;
  •          How to iron out anomalies;
  •          How the working holiday visa holder left without a job is to fare;
  •          How to conduct church services;
  •          What is an essential job/business;
  •          Can counselling still take place?
  •          And spare a thought for the couple who were contractually bound to vacate (through sale) their house in Victoria but had not yet settled their purchase in Legana and so were denied entry to Tasmania because they weren’t residents (all now thankfully resolved).

In these tough times, we need to draw on our own reserves of resilience and goodwill to ensure we remain individually and socially civil. We need to encourage each other in these behaviours as well.

The overwhelming feedback received by my office is the acceptance, indeed a willing and deliberate rising to the occasion, that we are all in this together. So patience, courtesies and compliance with requests from authorities are all being exercised along with the requisite physical distancing.

My odd morning jog sees fellow joggers/walkers taking wide berths from each other with a compensating big smile and greeting. Community at its best – staying distant yet friendly.

While it seems we are in this for the long haul, it is vital we continue to exercise civilities and do our bit. And remember we are going through this to help protect the lives of the physically vulnerable. Every life matters. Each one of us counts.

And then, when we emerge on the other side with our full liberties restored we will all nevertheless need to retain this Team Australia approach as we pay down the huge debt burden, restore jobs and the economy, whilst also ensuring we rebuild sufficient resilience in the event of (God forbid) another pandemic or worse. To achieve this for ourselves, our families and our Nation we will need to re-embrace some old, yet tried and tested virtues – such as self-reliance, putting aside for a rainy day, shunning the entitlement mentality be it in payment of taxes owed or claiming welfare, and not putting all our eggs in the one basket to mention a few.

Talking of eggs and baskets… happy Easter and let's revive ourselves spiritually in this season of hope and renewal and bring those qualities to bear now (hope) and when we emerge on the other side (renewal).


About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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