Thursday, 13 August 2020
Late yesterday I received a reply from the office of the Premier of Queensland to my numerous letters regarding concerns and proposed changes to the Queensland/NSW border closure restrictions.
The reply was under the hand of the Premier’s Principal Advisor and it wasn’t a so much a reply, as a flick pass, indicating the Premier had referred the matter to her Deputy Premier and Minister for Health ‘for consideration’, as the responsible Minister.
To say I’m disappointed with this response is a gross understatement. The Queensland Premier was front and centre last week announcing the hasty ‘hard border’, but is nowhere to be seen now when the tough questions are put about border exemptions, definitions and the ridiculously small and ill-conceived postcode boundary bubble.
Our residents, especially farmers, contractors and parents of students away at school in Queensland are flummoxed and frustrated by the hard border imposition.
The hurt inflicted by this border closure is real and completely needless, given the obvious low health risks in our region.
Protecting Queensland residents from the COVID-19 pandemic is obviously paramount for the Premier, but it’s hard to reconcile how the health risks posed by various activities are determined.
I mean, every pub and club in metropolitan Brisbane (where there are current active cases) are open, trading and welcoming in patrons, but a country NSW-based agronomist cannot cross the border to perform their critical work on a farm in a place like Inglewood.
I’ve been inundated with more than 200 letters, emails and phone calls from people and agricultural businesses owners who have had their lives turned upside down of late. I thank every one of those people for sharing their story and the distress and economic loss this sudden border closure has caused.
I’ll continue to work with my NSW parliamentary colleagues, of all political persuasions, and local councils to have the border zone boundaries extended, from postcodes to local government boundaries. This would resolve many of the significant issues and has the support of everyone on the NSW side of the border.
I’ll leave no stone unturned in my efforts on behalf of residents and communities, to see some sensible changes made to the hard border.