From combat to wombat: Scomo visits the Coast

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks

Against a backdrop of a controversial commitment to increased gas-fired power, growing angst over Chinese data mining and a combative week with State governments over border restrictions, Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a surprise visit to Somersby on September 15 to announce a $172,190 boost for the Australian Reptile Park.

The money comes from a $94.6M support package for the nation’s zoos and aquariums announced earlier this year and will be used to fund operational costs associated with the care of the animals and to help ensure the park remains viable post COVID-19.

Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks, who accompanied the PM on his Park visit, said keeping regional zoos in good shape was all important during the pandemic.

“This will be vital to helping our regional communities get back on their feet which will in turn sustain local jobs,” Wicks said.

“It is absolutely crucial iconic zos like the Australian Reptile Park can still operate on the other side of COVID-19.”

Reptile Park Director Tim Faulkner said the money was a lifeline for the park, which was forced to close for more than three months during the period of coronavirus social restrictions.

“When COVID first hit the shockwaves were felt by all,” he said.

“But we still had to find ways to afford the basic day to day running of the park to ensure we could support the many animals we look after.”

As Prime Minister Morrison cuddled Park resident Hope the wombat, he reflected that there was plenty of hope for Australia’s future.

“I remember when we won the Olympics bid in 1993 just following our last recession,” he said.

“That was followed by years of growth and now we find ourselves back in a recession which isn’t anything we wanted to see.

“But Australians are always able to hold onto hope.”

Terry Collins