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For many Gippslanders, the festive season signals the chance to take a well-earned break.

In our increasingly busy lives, we have a chance to catch our breath: reflect on the year that has passed, meet up with family and friends, and make plans for the future.

As a Parliamentarian, it’s often tempting to complain about the things our community doesn’t have, but I strive to be as positive as possible about the things we do have.

We should always strive for improvements but it doesn’t hurt to consider the old saying about remembering to count our blessings.

In Gippsland, we have many ‘blessings’ including extraordinary natural resources; a strong sense of community spirit; hard working professional people and volunteers; and many quality facilities and services.

We are a resilient and resourceful region which makes an enormous contribution to the wealth of our nation.

We stand a better chance of prosperity as a community if we can capture the spirit of the festive season and work together throughout the year.

One practical opportunity at this time of the year is to shop locally for Christmas presents, purchase locally grown produce or hire local service providers and tradespeople.

I understand that cost of living impacts can tempt some families to by-pass local shops in search of so-called ‘bargains’ but the long-term cost to our communities needs to be taken into account.

Our small businesses are the first to donate goods to local community and sporting organisations as well as supporting other fundraising initiatives so it only makes sense to support them in return.

The best present we can give a young Gippslander this Christmas is a chance to get a job in their own community.

Finally, I would like to urge everybody to take care on our roads this festive season.

With the higher than normal traffic volume on local roads, we will have to be patient as it may take longer than usual to reach our favourite Gippsland destinations. Allow a little bit extra time for your journey and make sure you arrive safely.

I wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.

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