Federal Member for Mallee, Anne Webster, has welcomed a NSW Government decision to extensively revise its COVID-19 border-control rules from Friday morning, enabling local residents to routinely cross the border.
“This will mean that the bulk of people needing to enter either NSW or cross into Victoria – within the declared border region – will at last be allowed to do so. This is very good and welcome news for border communities,” Dr Webster said.
“People will be able to cross the border using a ‘border region resident permit,’ which will be obtainable through the Service NSW website.
“Any existing permit, issued under the previous scheme which is still valid when the new order takes effect on Friday, will also be recognised as a ‘border region resident permit’ until it expires.”
Dr Webster said the decision followed long and determined negotiations between herself and NSW Cross-Border Commissioner James McTavish.
The new COVID-19 border-control region, which will apply to the entire length of the NSW-Victoria border, was defined on an official map signed by the NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research, Brad Hazzard.
“The new permit scheme will enable residents within the declared region – on both sides of the border – to obtain necessary goods or services, to travel for care or compassionate reasons, to attend work or obtain educational services (when they cannot do so from home), and to move to a new place of residence, all within the declared border region,” Dr Webster said.
“Compassionate permits will still be available for end-of-life care and to enable attendance at funerals and memorial services, but also for other exceptional circumstances,” Dr Webster said. Further advice and guidance on these circumstances will be provided as and when it becomes available, she said.
“We still have a long way to go, as COVID-19 remains a problem for Victorian communities further south of the NSW border, but this is certainly a first step towards normalcy in communities along the Murray,” Dr Webster said.
While the border changes are welcome, there is still the issue of agriculture workers from outside the border zone needing to travel across the border, such as Chris Taylor in Warracknabeal. Hopefully todays National Cabinet will approve a National Code for Agriculture workers, allowing movement between the states.