Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan has again slammed the Queensland Premier’s decision to keep the borders closed, accusing her of ‘causing havoc’ for political gain.
As local mayors and general managers work behind the scenes to convince the Queensland Government to ease the restrictions, Mr Hogan is pursuing a somewhat less diplomatic path.
‘Following extensive lobbying by the Premier, Queensland is now hosting the AFL Grand Final,’ Mr Hogan said.
‘Why is she happy to open the border for AFL footy players, but not for us from our COVID-free region?’
‘Our region has no community transmission of the virus. We are not a ‘hot spot’. There is nothing but heartache and damage being done to families health and livelihoods.”
‘This might be playing well for the QLD Premier politically in the short term, but this border closure is causing havoc.’
As thousands of north coast residents needing to cross the border for business, medical or family reasons continue to suffer, Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson, said the mayors were quietly lobbying the QLD and NSW governments.
They had also committed to writing a position paper on the issue.
‘The position is that we want the QLD government to consider reverting back to the border closure rules we had a few months ago,’ Cr Richardson told last week’s full Council meeting.
‘I was communicating with someone yesterday who has a business in Robina with a $4 million turnover, that he can’t access.
‘It provides building materials to the top 10 housing builders in the Northern Rivers that they now can’t access.’
Cr Richardson said that the group of mayors and GMs had come up with other options for easing the restrictions, including that the so-called ‘border bubble’ be extended to the northern border of Ballina.
It was also proposing intrastate travel restrictions to the border bubble areas from any NSW COVID-19 clusters, to protect rural and regional areas such as Byron Shire.
This would maintain the integrity of the border bubble and give confidence to QLD. The group was also calling on the NSW government to provide increased specialist medical services for northern NSW residents who couldn’t receive medical support – including dental care – in QLD.
If certain medical services couldn’t be provided, the government could assist residents by providing financial support so they could quarantine in QLD if they had to cross the border for essential treatment.
‘Basically, we want to write to all and sundry who have got potential positions of influence to get support for what we’re looking to do, to advocate,’ Cr Richardson said.
‘It’s not about creating any undue criticism. Governments of all persuasions are doing their best.
‘If we can stay on good terms we’ve got a better chance of a good outcome.’
The efforts of the mayors and GMs received unanimous support from councillors.