2 May 2020

Every dark COVID-19 cloud has a silver lining

| Mark Parton MLA
Join the conversation
Canberra parks

There’s been a silver lining for many families spending more time together in the lockdown. Photo: Supplied.

I said to our teenagers: “You realise that you’re living through quite possibly the defining moment of the 21st century, don’t you? You know that one day, one of your grandchildren will ask you what the COVID-19 year was like?”

They marvelled at this concept, but it didn’t blunt the pain of birthday parties without invited guests and the monotony of isolation as it ate an even greater hole in 2020.

The slowdown has been challenging for most of us. It’s taken lives and landed quite a number of Canberrans in hospital with severe symptoms. The resultant restrictions have pushed scores of businesses to the brink of bankruptcy and it’s inevitable that it’ll push some over the edge.

Despite the intent and the mammoth scale of the JobKeeper and JobSeeker packages, a number of individuals have not been sufficiently cushioned after losing their jobs which has been pretty rough.

But through it all, we’ve adapted. And some of the changes have been positive.

Luisa and Mark Parton

Luisa and Mark Parton enjoying the autumn sunshine. Photo: Supplied.

When I go bike riding on the paths around Tuggeranong, I’m astounded by the number of individuals and families who’ve been out exercising together in the last five weeks or so. They weren’t doing this last year. Although the restrictions have placed pressure on many, they’ve also succeeded in bringing some families together.

When you’re locked up in a house with two, four or six others for a number of weeks you learn a bit about each other. There’s only so much Netflix and TikTok you can watch before you go stir crazy, and if that results in more families out together enjoying the sunshine, it’s gotta be a good thing.

I had personally put on a bit of weight in the last 12 months, but I’ve lost most of it in the last 6 weeks through more running, walking and cycling, and I’m not alone.

Those of us who really enjoy cooking up a storm in the kitchen have also had a field day. I’ve experimented with new things and those in my house have loved it. And this is despite the fact that my personal workload hasn’t ended up decreasing by much over the slowdown period.

Our dogs have loved it. For our two kelpies, the COVID-19 slowdown has been the best time of their lives. There’s always someone at home for them and there’s much more time for walks, throwing the ball and having cuddles. For many people who live alone, their dog or their cat has been a literal lifesaver.

And the traffic .. or lack thereof?

I drove into work from Theodore on Wednesday morning in just 22 minutes in ‘peak hour’. Driving around the city has become really cruisy. Prior to COVID-19 I’d never been brave enough to take the big Wentworth Avenue roundabout or the Ashley Drive/Erindale Drive roundabout while riding the bike, but that’s changed in recent weeks.

We’re all counting down the days until the end of restrictions but I’m sure we’ll all be cursing about the traffic pretty quickly after everybody gets back to work.

My wife’s family are all overseas and she’s been devastated by having to cancel one of her trips ‘back home’, but the crisis has resulted in an endless stream of family Zoom conferences, so much so that she’s convinced they’ve never spent so much time together.

It goes without saying that we all want things back to normal as quickly as possible, but it hasn’t been all bad.

What’s the best thing to come out of the crisis for you?

Mark Parton is a Liberal MLA in the seat of Brindabella. He is contesting the forthcoming ACT election.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Maybe the best thing is a greater appreciation for the parks and green spaces around Canberra and recognition of the stupidity of the ACT government’s obsession with high density infill and apartment blocks.

Mark Parton MLA8:14 pm 03 May 20

You’re not the first person to say that to me. Room to move has never been more important. The Canberra Liberals believe that the government must continue to offer a variety of housing types to the marketplace, but I think your observation is correct…stand alone houses seem more attractive today than they did 3 months ago. Most of the Covid-19 hotspots around the world have been densely populated areas.

Think you will find that the bulk of that places to be adversely effected have been north of the Tropic of Cancer.

There are plenty of density populated cities in the tropics and south of the tropics of Capricorn that have escaped thus far.

And the higher density cities
In Australia have been no worse or better than the ACT, except Sydney.

I hope that I am wrong but with winter coming I wouldn’t be surprised if cases start to accelerate southern countries like South Africa, Argentina etc though I hope that here in Aus thanks to the effort the Federal and State government have done at containing it early and isolating overseas arrivals will see the country including higher density areas remain unscathed.

Action care to list what green spaces have been lost to infill? And by green spaces I don’t mean sites that were set aside by the NCDC years ago for future development I mean useful green spaces that have been taken and built on.
I can think of a few, but the bulk of high density building has been done on greenfields sites (Flemmington Road corridor, John Gorton Drive), sites in town centres that were either set aside or carparks for offices that no longer exist or on sites that had older buildings that have been demolished. Northborne Ave.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.