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Helen Haines says jobs will be lost unless the NSW Government allows cross-border workers a worker permit.

The Independent Federal Member for Indi said the lives of North East Victorians had been turned upside down by the NSW Government’s tightened border restrictions.

“Indigo Shire Mayor Jenny O’Connor has again confirmed to me that more than 1000 shire residents who normally work in NSW can’t get to work,” Dr Haines said.

“That’s 14 per cent of the shire’s working population.

“Young people have been unable to start new jobs. Health care staff have had to jump through hoops to do their work. A thriving Wodonga hair salon has lost 60 per cent of its business in the past seven days.

“These are just snapshots. Whole communities are taking the hit. Indigo Shire residents in Beechworth, Yackandandah, Chiltern, Rutherglen and smaller hamlets are being squeezed from every side.

“Indigo Shire’s tourism economy was already slugged by the bushfires.

“These communities then lost millions because of the hospitality, tourism and social distancing restrictions during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We simply cannot afford to lose any more jobs.

“The NSW Government’s border restrictions are putting an economic and social cost on our regional communities that will be deep, painful and felt for years.

“There is no public health justification for this hardship.”

Dr Haines said she continually raised these concerns in daily briefings with NSW Cross-Border Commissioner James McTavish and other MPs about the ballooning impact of the border lockdown.

“Border residents and their families are wearing the cost of the COVID-19 second wave in Melbourne, Mitchell Shire on Melbourne’s northern perimeter and in Sydney,” she said.

“The fact remains – many people in our border communities, where there is no incidence of COVID-19 community transmission, are unable to go to work and transact business because of the NSW Government’s border restrictions.

“But if you live in Melbourne and Sydney you can go still go to work.

“It’s unfair and illogical. We need a better way.”

[July 29, 2020]

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