I have always felt a special fondness for Victoria, having spent six very happy months there at school fifty-four years ago, and having had a chance to explore various parts of the State. From being able to live among you and then to have had the good fortune to re-visit your marvellous State on many occasions, I know that Victorians, like all Australians, are tenacious and resilient; or indeed as you might say in Australia, “made of tough stuff”. My wife and I have endless admiration for your seemingly unceasing capacity for good humour in the face of great hardship...
However, I realize that this capacity has been sorely tested this year, which has certainly been a tremendously difficult one for Australia, and especially, if I may say so, for Victoria. No sooner were the dreadful Summer bushfires over, than you found yourselves grappling with this pernicious and unpredictable virus. I can only imagine just how incredibly hard it must be for you all, that having had such early success in combatting the virus, you now find yourselves in the midst of this second wave with all its heart-breaking consequences for so many people’s lives, livelihoods and businesses.
Having experienced this dreadful coronavirus myself, my heart goes out to all those currently battling the disease, those caring for them – either at home or in your first-class health care system – and those who have so tragically lost their loved ones.
I do know how much of a toll this pandemic must have taken on so many of you, including all of you whose business enterprises and employment have been affected by the necessary social restrictions. I know, too, that a great number of essential workers – whether they work in care homes, hospitals, transportation or supermarkets – are doing a remarkable and utterly vital job in such very difficult and challenging circumstances.
To all of you, I just wanted to say, on behalf of my wife and myself, that you are so much in our special thoughts at what I can well imagine is a tremendously testing and frustrating time, and that we care deeply for what you are having to go through. It is our heartfelt wish that – in the words of Victor Daley, the Nineteenth Century poet who found his voice in Victoria, and who was himself no stranger to hardship – you will soon see “Sorrow go down with the sun”.
So all I can say, however inadequate this may seem under such unprecedented circumstances, is that these difficult, often soul-destroying days will surely pass, and we have no doubt that Victoria will emerge stronger than ever.