No-one could have predicted the year that 2020 was. From bushfires to COVID-19, sports rorts to Cartier watches, it was a rollercoaster.
Blue Mountains businesses started feeling the pinch 12 months ago, when the bushfires blanketed our region in smoke and the flood of tourists turned into a trickle.
The resilience of the local business community shone through as more than 250 business operators joined me in January to highlight the crisis they were facing, which we now know was a $66 million blow.
And then COVID hit, the trickle became a drought, and more jobs dried up.
Never has the intervention of governments been so crucial as in the worst recession the country has experienced, and my office helped hundreds of people forced to seek government assistance, often for the very first time.
But the Mountains community is strong. Many small businesses seized opportunities and many workers that reinvented themselves. Across the board, we embraced technology and a new way of working for what became the 'new normal'.
Our teachers are a shining example of those who stepped up to go above and beyond during the pandemic. They made massive changes very quickly to ensure students weren't being left behind in what was an uncertain time for them, and to them I say a heartfelt thank you.
To those on the front line - our nurses, our cleaners, our supermarket and shop workers, childcare workers and teachers, bus and train drivers, Centrelink staff - all those who continued to put themselves at risk so the rest of us did not go without healthcare and necessities, thank you.
And where governments failed to meet our needs, our community stepped up. An army of amazing local volunteers provided food, funds and mental health support to those in need. They continue to give selflessly of their time helping the most vulnerable in our local community, often going under the radar and using their own funds to provide the most essential services, and to them we also express our gratitude.
In 2020, I have walked this journey with you, as your Federal Member of Parliament. My office helped solve many phone and internet issues as people worked from home. We helped people leave the country or return. We helped with JobKeeper and JobSeeker problems. And my wonderful team of volunteers reached out to the older members of the community with a phone call, just to check in and see if they were ok. Sometimes they were, but in a few cases they weren't, and we were able to put them in contact with services who could help.
There have been many promises made by the government, but also many not delivered yet, and after the cameras have stopped rolling and the photo opportunity is done, I'll be holding them to account.
As we end one hell of a year and start a more hopeful one, I am here for you, to make sure no one is left behind.