The decision by the NSW Government to enact a new border region is welcome, making daily life easier, especially for those who were only just excluded from the previous bubble. For example, those living in Koorlong, Quambatook, Manangatang and Werrimull will now have much more flexibility.
But I believe that border closures should never have been the answer to containing the spread of COVID-19. These closures have hurt communities, businesses and families. They have caused distress, anxiety and have affected the mental health of many.
The benefit of being in Government is that I can take issues directly up the chain of command. I have spoken in the Joint Party room and asked the Prime Minister to intervene personally in order for people to access the healthcare they need and have a right to. I am extremely grateful for the Prime Minister’s assistance, but this should not be necessary in modern Australia.
David is a farmer from the east of Mallee. He needed life-saving surgery in Sydney to remove a malignant brain tumour this week. He arrived in Sydney for his emergency surgery only to be placed into quarantine for two weeks. David was provided an exemption from quarantine only after I spoke to the Prime Minister who then contacted the NSW Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard.
This was life saving for David, who is now recovering from his surgery. But the fight against these border restrictions does not end here. The new NSW border region does not solve all of our issues, and South Australia is yet to reinstate a border bubble.
I find it ludicrous that someone from Murrayville can now cross the NSW border as a border region resident, and drive 450km to Menindee for work, education, and necessary goods and services, yet they still are not allowed to drive 30km to Pinnaroo in South Australia.
The NSW Government have recognised that our region has been without COVID-19 for months, and that it is safe to begin reducing border restrictions. South Australia is also engaging in important steps forward.
I plan to keep get fighting these border closures, until movement through State boundaries is once again completely free for all Australians.