Coulton's Catch-Up | Please stop panic buying

I know that there are people in my electorate who are concerned about COVID-19 and what it means for their communities.

I have been in regular contact with the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, who has been briefing me and other Federal Government Ministers on the very latest expert information about the virus. As a Government, we are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and we'll continue to do all that we possibly can to protect the health and wellbeing of Australians.

The situation is fluid and we need to remain calm, but of course take all necessary precautions.

Many of my constituents would be closely monitoring the Prime Minister Scott Morrison's regular media conferences on this matter.

As the Prime Minister said in his address last week - please stop panic buying. We will get through this together if we remain respectful and thoughtful towards the more vulnerable people in our communities.

The information at www.health.gov.au includes daily updates, answering your questions about the latest news, current facts and figures, travel advice, key contacts and phone numbers.

If you are a constituent of the Parkes electorate and you need assistance with any matter relating to the Federal Government, please contact one of my offices in Dubbo, Moree or Broken Hill - my staff would be happy to assist you wherever possible.

I urge my constituents to remain calm and continue with their daily lives as best they can, while respecting the measures which are in place to keep us safe and well.

ANZAC Day services

Attending an ANZAC Day service in my electorate every year has always been a staple in my diary. It is an important commemoration where we demonstrate our respect and admiration for ANZACs past and present.

But the way we commemorate ANZAC Day this year will unfortunately need to change, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Cabinet has agreed that ANZAC Day ceremonies and events should be cancelled due to the high proportion of older Australians who attend such events, and the increased risk posed to these individuals.

Expert advice within Australia and internationally which says that large public gatherings present an unacceptable risk to the community, could not be ignored.

This decision has not been made lightly and has taken into consideration a number of key factors, primarily concerns about the welfare of Australians and other visitors travelling to services.

The Australian War Memorial is planning to broadcast the national Dawn Service to support individual reflection on this important day. The Government will also be exploring other opportunities to ensure all Australians have the opportunity to pay their respects and reflect on the service and sacrifice of our veterans.

As a nation we recognise the importance of ANZAC Day, and on 25 April this year I encourage my constituents to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of the more than 102,000 Australians who have died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

Backing female entrepreneurs

The Coalition Government is backing female entrepreneurs to grow their ideas and create jobs, with an $18 million funding program now open.

The Boosting Female Founders Initiative will provide grants to women with start-ups that need support to grow. Competitive grants of between $25,000 and $400,000 are available on a co-contribution basis for projects that are majority owned and led by women.

This is designed to address some of the challenges experienced by women who are trying to take their start-ups to the next level.

I'm hoping that with this support, we can get some great job-creating, economy-boosting projects off the ground in the Parkes electorate.

The Program design follows national consultations with women across Australia, including in rural and regional areas. It also seeks to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women with a disability and first-generation migrants.

Applications for Stage 1 - Expression of Interest can be submitted at: business.gov.au/bff before the closing date, 14 April 2020.