Helen Haines says the NSW Government needs to be crystal clear about what border residents can and cannot do when tighter cross-border COVID-19 restrictions come into effect from midnight tomorrow.
The Independent Federal Member for Indi said the latest announcements have increased confusion and frustration for business and individuals.
Residents needing medical or hospital care must also have absolute assurance they will still be able to enter NSW for all appointments from July 22.
“The Service NSW website this afternoon shows the temporary border closure should not stop anyone seeking medical treatment,” Dr Haines said.
“It says if you live in Victoria and need to travel to NSW for medical treatment then you don’t need a permit to cross, just as NSW residents who need medical, health or hospital services in Victoria do not need a permit.
“But NSW Health in its media statement yesterday (July 19) said entry to NSW for medical or hospital services from July 22 will only be allowed where these services are not available in Victoria or cannot be accessed by telehealth. This has created a whole new level of ambiguity.
“What does that mean for people from Wodonga being treated by Albury doctors or specialists?
“We must all follow the advice of public health authorities to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“But I’m concerned and dismayed that communities that operate as one on both sides of the border, like Albury Wodonga, are being thrown into disarray when there have been very few positive COVID-19 tests in the region.
“It seems NSW does not require its residents elsewhere to observe travel restrictions like these despite the widely reported incidence of community transmission in Sydney.”
Dr Haines said she was also concerned that calls on the NSW Government and Cross Border Commissioner by border mayors, councils and MPs for border catchment communities like Yackandandah, Beechworth, Rutherglen and Wangaratta to be defined as ‘border communities’ had fallen on deaf ears.
“We were told the NSW Government was ‘listening’ but it’s clear now that the definition of a border community has become very narrow, limited to a very short distance either side of the Murray River” she said.
[July 20, 2020]