Three members of parliament representing NSW-Victorian border residents have written a joint letter to the Prime Minister seeking urgent intervention to reverse ‘‘draconian New South Wales Government measures denying people medical treatment, employment, access to essential goods and services and compassionate family visits’’.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party Member for Murray Helen Dalton has joined with Victorian Independent Member for Mildura Ali Cupper and Member for Northern Victoria Region Tania Maxwell (Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party) in appealing directly to the Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the impact of the NSW-Victorian border closure.
‘‘While we fully support sensible restrictions to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, the implementation of the border closure is devastating cross border communities who have been co-dependent on each other for more than a century,’’ the joint letter reads.
‘‘Moreover, there is no evidence the extreme measures impacting on border residents are necessary — especially considering residents of Sydney COVID hotspots remain free to travel around the state.
‘‘The key problem is the New South Wales Government’s very narrow and illogical definition of the so-called border zone — a zone that allows permit-based travel for work, education, health and to purchase essential goods.
‘‘Many New South Wales towns have been excluded from the border zone, even though they are entirely dependent on Victoria for their goods, services and as their source of education, employment and health care.’’
Mrs Dalton said the sudden closure of the NSW-Victoria border on Wednesday, July 8 has seen her office bombarded with hundreds of residents unable to get to work, see their doctor or buy basic goods and services.
‘‘The government closed the border without any consultation with local members or councils. I spent all last week pleading with ministers to implement sensible exemptions, but they’re responding far too slowly,’’ Mrs Dalton said
‘‘People’s lives are at risk. The Prime Minister must step in.’’
In their letters, the parliamentarians say a ‘‘simple solution’’ would be to widen the border zone from Bendigo in Victoria to Wagga in New South Wales.
They request that travel within this zone for purposes such as work, education, health care, the purchase of goods and services and compassionate visits to family members in need of care be allowed.
‘‘As there are relatively few cases of Coronavirus within this zone, allowing essential travel would pose few health risks,’’ the letter states.
‘‘But it would alleviate the enormous health, social and economic upheaval currently faced by residents in these areas.’’