Summer's devastating bushfire season had barely finished before the Eden-Monaro was plunged into turmoil again, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We asked the candidates in Eden-Monaro's July 4 by-election for their policies on the way forward for our economy past the COVID-19 pandemic, asking them to identify the key sectors that need support to increase job creation and restart our economy as we emerge from the coronavirus lockdown.
Candidates were also asked if the current amount paid to recipients in the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs in this emergency period, $1500 and $1100 a fortnight respectively, should be continued past the estimated end date in September.
Those clearly agreeing to extend payments are: Joy Angel, Cathy Griff and Karen Porter.
Attempts were made for comment from Trevor Hicks and James Holgate/
Joy Angel, Sustainable Australia Party
"SAP supports secure jobs via a more diverse economy, with a particular focus on rebuilding our factories, farms and small businesses. To achieve this, we need major trade and taxation policy reform.
"We should phase out tax concessions that encourage property speculation and instead divert that local investment into more productive assets - our factories, farms and small businesses.
"Successive federal governments have also signed unfair trade agreements that have shut down much of Australia's manufacturing and allowed the selloff of Australia's best agricultural land to foreign buyers. All trade agreements must be re-negotiated to prioritise fair trade, with mutually high environmental standards and labour conditions."
Michael Balderstone, HEMP
"Tourism and the arts need help primarily, restaurants and cafes too.
"If we legalise, regulate and tax cannabis supply and sales in Eden-Monaro hundreds of jobs will be created. And show the ACT how to do it properly! Some states in America are banking on cannabis to lift them economically out of this recession. Colorado has already made over one billion dollars in tax, spending it mostly on hospitals and schools.
"And what about a pet food factory for the too many brumbies in Kosciuszko?
"And yes to continuing payments where needed now we know they have $60billion up their sleeve!"
Riccardo Bosi, indi
"The government's ill-conceived COVID-19 lockdown has caused massive and unnecessary damage to the economy because the sick, not the healthy, should have been quarantined.
"All economic sectors are interdependent, so ending the lockdown immediately and opening the entire electorate to the creative talents of business and labour will result in the quickest and broadest recovery.
"Second, all economically regressive restrictions such as limits on commercial fishing should be lifted and tax rates should be reduced.
"The JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs are an economic drain, but should continue beyond September to ensure people are protected from the government's incompetence."
Cathy Griff, Greens
"Our comprehensive plan creates many jobs in Eden-Monaro. It includes investing in Australia's skills, education and research, providing free, expanded TAFE and university education; establishing the Manufacturing Australia Fund with government procurement policies prioritising Australian products; the Nature Fund underpinning a Habitat Taskforce to restore our forests after bushfires and includes other protection programs; building public and community homes; saving Australia's arts, entertainment and creative industry with our Create Australia recovery package; a Grid Transformation Fund that forms the basis for 100 per cent renewable energy; properly investing in our aged care system, retaining free childcare and boosting early childhood education."
James Jansson, Science Party
"Sectors with continuing underlying demand but which are not dependent on international travel should be the focus. We have a substantial infrastructure backlog, including road, rail and home construction. We have a plan for high speed rail from Sydney to Melbourne through Canberra and the Eden-Monaro electorate. We also plan to build a new university town on that train line.
"We support a permanent increase to JobSeeker. The JobSeeker supplement will have to eventually go down, and JobKeeper will need to be ended at some point, however we need a transition period that extends beyond September, potentially at a lower rate."
Fiona Kotvojs, Liberals
"The Morrison government is providing the biggest economic lifeline in Australia's history. This includes JobKeeper, which is supporting around 4800 businesses in Eden-Monaro.
"The recovery won't be uniform, so we must be flexible and respond to the changes we face. That's why Eden-Monaro needs a strong voice working as part of the government.
"Government support has been legislated for six months, with a review underway. This situation is unprecedented and changing, but I can assure you the Morrison government's focus is helping us to rebuild. If elected, I would work to make sure our needs in Eden-Monaro are understood and met."
Kristy McBain, Labor
"The tourism, hospitality, agriculture and forestry sectors are all suffering - they will need the greatest support, and it will take some time for them to recover.
"Our tourism and hospitality sectors are major employers of locals, particularly on the coast and in the Snowy Mountains. These sectors are overwhelmingly made up of small businesses that have the smallest margins and least able to cope with an economic downturn. Many could not access small business grants or JobKeeper, and many are facing closure when these supports are withdrawn by the government in September.
"JobSeeker cannot be allowed to return to the old rate of $40 a day.
"Many businesses are worried they will have to close if JobKeeper is withdrawn too soon. The government must seriously consider extending the wage subsidy for bushfire-affected areas."
Dean McCrae, Liberal Democrats
"Regarding recovery [for] Eden-Monaro after fires, floods and COVID-19, we need a minimum of 12months as a special economic zone free from all federal taxes. No income tax, business tax, fuel excise, or any other federal taxes.
"We also need to lift business restrictions cut red and green tape allowing businesses to rebuild without nonsensical government interference."
Karen Porter, indi
"We need to support entrepreneurs and private enterprise. We need to rebuild our towns through local jobs and I can see that we can be world leaders in renewables component production. So many sectors need help to regrow and if the government had a COVID-19 renewable lead recovery then we could get serious about our future and our local employment.
"The emergency situations highlighted the inadequacy of telecommunications services throughout the electorate. Our towns need to be more resilient and self-sufficient. We need to make sure that we have telecommunications capable of working through an emergency along with power and water."
Jason Potter, Australian Federation Party
"We need an inspiring major project to invigorate the economy, provide jobs and give people hope, that's why we support the Eden-Canberra rail project.
"We must reduce taxes and red tape for business and tourism to make their recovery easier. Giving incentives to encourage Australians to visit our regional areas for holidays.
"We need to provide for those who are vulnerable, marginalised and in need. That's why we are advocating for improved mental health support by extending the Medicare rebate to counsellors and psychotherapists.
"[JobKeeper payments] should be continued for sectors at risk of collapse eg tourism, retail, tradies."
Matthew Stadtmiller, Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party
"The government must rebuild the tourism and hospitality industry domestically and more specifically across Eden-Monaro, or else these operators face oblivion.
"Similarly, the effect that the bushfires have had on the forestry industry need to be considered when discussing support and job creation. We need to continue to injection funding into the regrowing state forests so that communities can continue to reap the rewards.
"It makes no sense for the government to pull the plug on JobKeeper when there are no more jobs to keep, they must firstly ensure that employers are in a position to bring back employees who are currently reliant on these government payments. Similarly, the JobSeeker program will serve its purpose when and only when, the Government puts jobs on the table for those seeking employment."
Narelle Storey, Christian Democratic Party
"[The key sectors are] hospitality, event management, musicians and entertainers, pubs and clubs, physical therapist and day spa/massage therapists.
"[Should JobKeeper and JobSeeker be continued past September?] No to JobKeeper, yes to JobSeeker. I think JobKeeper doesn't have enough checks and balances. Our focus should be to provide better supports directly to those who have lost work, rather than handouts to businesses that may not actually be suffering losses. It's the small sole traders/contractors that have been forgotten. There's too much red tape to get JobSeeker and no employees to get JobKeeper."