MEMBER for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said there has never been a more important time in local history than now when it comes to shopping locally.
Mr Walsh said while it might sound simplistic, pumping local money into the local economy will be the cornerstone of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said Echuca’s commercial precincts have been under siege by lockdowns, unemployment and uncertainty.
“But one thing is certain here, we must get out and back local business as much as we can,” Mr Walsh said.
“The hospitality sector, retail and even larger enterprises do more, much more, than just provide jobs,” he said.
“They also sponsor community activities, from sport to the arts, they bring new families to our towns and that in turn means bigger school numbers, bigger markets and bigger opportunities for infrastructure and growth.
“But it all starts at that grassroots level, of going into the central business district and spending your money there.”
Mr Walsh said while everyone enjoyed the occasional shopping trip to Melbourne or Bendigo those plans must be put on the backburner – way back.
The same goes for online shopping. Letting your fingers do the shopping as you click your way through websites searching for bargains “will have a very direct and very negative impact in your town”.
He said you only have to walk down Hare or High streets to see the impact the COVID-19 lockdowns have had on Echuca.
“We are not talking about supporting faceless people here, we are talking about your neighbours, your friends and your families,” Mr Walsh said.
“We are trying to maintain the fabric of the Echuca community and that won’t be achieved by spending your money outside the region,” he said.
“Keeping a vibrant local economy and growing population goes much further than you think – such as the value of your home. If Echuca grows so does the value of your biggest single asset. Think about that next time you click ‘add to cart’.
“Also, when sport resumes, clubs will be turning to those businesses for sponsorship – in cash and kind – to provide a healthy focus for everyone from the youngest juniors to senior teams.
“You can’t drive past these shops on your way to a big city and then turn around to them the next week and put your hand out for some sponsorship.
“Sponsorship you won’t get from some website with a few bargains.
“The line ‘we’re all in this together’ is absolutely correct now we are looking towards recovery – we need to stick together so we can grow together.”
Mr Walsh said his office has been fielding enquiries from a lot of confused people as the rules about lockdowns, going interstate and who can and cannot re-open for business.
He said one thing was showing through all this; Echuca, and in the broader sense, all of Campaspe Shire, has dodged a bullet in the number of coronavirus cases.
“But as with the rest of Victoria, and Australia, our economy has been thrown under a bus in the fight against this virus,” Mr Walsh said.
“Despite the problems in Melbourne’s hotspots, and all our thoughts are with those many families trapped in this debacle, Echuca’s population is healthy,” he said.
“Now we need to make the most of that opportunity and go shopping – locally.
“That will be the fastest way for us to all get back on our feet – local money, local economy, local recovery.”