Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (11:17): My question is to the Minister for Small Business.
The UK has invested in pathogen reduction ventilation, and a team of engineers, scientists and medical experts have developed a system that uses high-intensity UVC light to kill airborne pathogens. It removes 99.99 per cent of COVID, and the technology is being trialled right now in Soho’s legendary 100 Club.
I am aware the Victorian government has set up a task force to improve ventilation in healthcare settings, but my question is: has the department conducted any research or sought to fund pathogen reduction technology to assist Victorian small businesses and improve ventilation, particularly in live music venues, bars and everything that makes Melbourne Melbourne?
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Employment, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Resources) (11:18): I thank Ms Patten for her question.
It was a trial in the UK that I was not aware of, but it sounds important and interesting. Certainly I can confirm that the government is undertaking work on ventilation and the important role that that plays, and I would note the significant work of people at the Burnet Institute in helping us all better understand the importance of ventilation now that it is well established that COVID-19 is indeed airborne—something that at this time last year was still the subject of some conjecture around the world.
In terms of ventilation support trials and new technology for small businesses, the short answer is no, not specifically, but the broader, more general answer is yes, we engage with our small business community and our small business community’s leaders and organisations and peak bodies all the time on all manner of issues, and I am certainly aware of the interest and desire to explore and understand opportunities around ventilation.
Our small business community cannot get through the national road map steps and milestones fast enough, and so I have lots of offers from people wanting to be part of trials and pilots and lots of ideas and suggestions about incentivising vaccinations— because our small business community has borne a very, very heavy share of the burden that the community has experienced these last 18 months.
They understand the quickest path to their recovery and getting back to doing what they love and what they are so great at is of course that plan, that road map, high, high rates of vaccination and of course all other measures that can assist us to live with COVID as it becomes endemic. So I hope that has satisfied your interest in this, Ms Patten, and I look forward to seeing how the trial goes.
Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (11:20): Thank you, Minister. Certainly we know that the live music venues in particular have borne a significant brunt. Reopening at 24 per cent, all of these things just do not work, particularly for those live music venues. They have been sort of locked out of some of the funding because they do not have kitchens, they do not fit into all of the models of support.
But the UK is taking this test, clean, prevent model, particularly for their entertainment, hospitality and night-time economy. So by way of supplementary I would ask: would you speak to the UK counterparts and see what they are doing, particularly for those small businesses in the live music industry?
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Employment, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Resources) (11:21): Like many Victorians, I desperately miss being able to go to live music venues, and if there are things that we can explore with the live music industry to help them operate better, more fully, more completely in a COVID-safe environment, then absolutely I would be very happy to learn some more about this.
I take the opportunity to commend so many in the Australian live music industry, promoters, supporters, for the launch of their Vax the Nation campaign a couple of days ago. It is incumbent upon all of us I think that have any sort of audience at all to spread the word.
I know that the question from our Lib Dems colleague just a moment ago sort of suggested that the balance of rights and responsibilities from their perspective is a little different from the way that the rest of us see it. I think that most in the live music industry would care very much for the rights of them to trade, the rights of them to perform and the rights of their patrons to be safe.