Wednesday, 23 September 2020
NORTHERN Tablelands MP and Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall has used a speech in the NSW Parliament last night to slam the exclusion of the Inverell and Gwydir Shires from the Queensland Government’s latest travel zone ‘border bubble’ extension, labelling the policy disruptive, heartless and hypocritical.
Mr Marshall publicly challenged the Queensland Premier to explain why the two shires, which both share a border with the state, have been left out of the border bubble while tourist hotspots like Byron Bay have been included.
“The fact is that the basic human needs of many people who live in border communities are still being denied, when there are no cases of COVID‑19 in those Local Government Areas (LGA) in NSW that border with Queensland,” Mr Marshall said.
“The Northern Tablelands electorate has three LGAs that share a border with Queensland – Moree Plains Shire, Gwydir Shire and Inverell Shire.
“To add insult to injury, the Queensland Premier announced that at 1am on 1 October 2020 the Queensland-New South Wales border bubble, as it has been termed, will be extended to include Byron Bay, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes Severn LGA.
“I do not begrudge the access being granted to those communities, but what I cannot abide is the rank hypocrisy of a government to the north, that allows access to people from LGAs that do not even border Queensland but denies access to people in the Northern Tablelands who live in local government areas that actually border Queensland.
“How can the people of Byron Bay, who, I am sure, are very decent people, present less of a health risk for Queensland than people who live in Inverell, Warialda or Bingara?
“There hasn’t been a single case of COVID-19 recorded in the Gwydir Shire and none in Inverell for more than five months, so what does Queensland have against our communities?
“We then overlay that with the AFL grand final that will be played in Queensland, with officals allowed in from Melbourne of all places. If you are rich or famous like Tom Hanks you can go straight into Queensland as well.
“Meanwhile, the people of northern NSW, who genuinely rely on travelling across that border for their everyday needs – whether it is schooling, shopping or, in the agricultural context in my electorate with the largest harvest in half a decade coming up, getting contractors and machinery from both sides of the border – are denied that entry.
“What we are seeing from Queensland is un-Australian. It is not only unfair; it is causing huge economic disruption as well as enormous social disruption.
“As if living in country NSW has not been tough enough in the past few years, without add this to pile to make it even tougher.
“I think it is absolutely disgraceful, illogical and un‑Australian – it has to stop.”
The full transcript of Mr Marshall’s speech can be found on the Parliament of NSW website
A copy of the video can be accessed at www.dropbox.com/s/84l76t66gbb42dt/22-09-2020%20LA_PMS_Marshall_Queensland%20Border%20Restrictions.mp4?dl=0