September 2, 2020
The easing of the NSW Government’s Victorian border restrictions will be very welcome.
But it’s only come about because of the really strong advocacy of so many people – of everyday citizens, parliamentarians on the border, community leaders, mayors and council chief executives.
I’ve been working hard since July 8 to try to get the NSW Government to bring common sense to its border closure regulations and to the chaotic permit system it put in place from July 22.
It dismays me that it took the NSW Premier until Tuesday, this week, to arrive and see with her own eyes the impact of her government’s decisions and its failure of engagement with our communities.
But I’m not going to be satisfied until I see all the details of the changes to come on Friday (September 4), until I see practical, workable common sense measures that enable us to get on with our lives while safeguarding our communities from COVID-19.
I want to be sure that our communities like those in Indigo Shire, in Wangaratta, and the northern areas of Alpine Shire so badly affected and ignored the first, second and third time around are now included in an extended border zone.
We all have sustained the impact, and the Treasurer’s statement today about the economic cost of COVID-19 shows how important it is that we can get back to work.
I also think it’s critical that NSW Health has a system of sensible, compassionate permits available so the many people who have been effectively thwarted for eight weeks can visit loved ones in palliative care, and older parents and grandparents.
The people in the communities I represent have for generations seen themselves as living in border communities.
They must be able to carry on the businesses and deliver the services that underpin our way of life – in farming, building, tourism, education, health care, and the support and care of our kids, our elders and the vulnerable.
We’ve all fought hard for this. I’ve fought hard for it and so many other people have, too.
But it doesn’t stop here. There is much hard work in front of us. Government needs to support our communities, so we can speed our recovery from the impact of bushfire, the first COVID-19 lockdown, the second stage three restrictions, and the border debacle.
I will continue to push for a nationally-agreed set of principles and protocols for border closures. Such protocols must ensure that fundamental consultation with border communities occurs so that safe and sensible provisions are made and chaos such as we have experienced for the past two months never happens again.
Map: Official NSW / Victoria revised border zone map (September 2, 2020)
Image: With Scissor Creations Hair Salon’s Leeanne Harkin and customer in Wodonga in July