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Byron Shire
October 22, 2021

Lismore Councillors vote to seek urgent changes to the NSW Government roadmap to reopening

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Councillor Elly Bird wants changes made to the NSW Roadmap to consider the needs of residents and businesses in the region. Photo Tree Faerie.

Residents in regional areas and local government area representatives, are already straining under what appears to be the Sydney centricity of the NSW Roadmap, and at last night’s Lismore Council meeting, Cr Elly Bird moved an urgency motion that Council immediately write to Janelle Saffin MP, Premier Dominic Perrottet and Deputy Premier Paul Toole, seeking urgent changes to the NSW Government roadmap to reopening for regional communities who have not achieved the same rates of vaccination as metropolitan communities.

Change in access requirements

Cr Bird wants to see change in access requirements to restricted premises to allow access for people with one dose of a vaccine; to extend the date for repeal of clause 4(a) to allow workers with one dose to be able to work beyond November 1st; to delay regional travel until at least 1st November or when regional communities consistently reach 80% double dose; to retain financial support for impacted businesses until December 1st, and request that the Member for Lismore consider making a private member’s statement to Parliament on this matter.

Cr Bird said the motion was intended to build on the significant advocacy already being undertaken on this matter and on the roadmap in general. ’It’s been so confusing for people as the roadmap is rolled out in our community.

A one-size-fits-all

‘For any of us who went down to the CBD yesterday, it was abundantly clear that the Sydney centric one-size-fits-all model that has been put onto our community just does not work.

Cr Bird said that the Roadmap suggests that now that the full state is 70 per cent double vaccinated, that we should be able to move towards some level of economic stabilisation and recovery. ‘But we know that here in the regions we haven’t reached 70 per cent. I think locally we’re sitting at about 50 per cent of all vaccinated, although I was really heartened to hear today on the radio that for first dose we have reached 84.8 per cent here in the Lismore LGA – we are well on our way to achieving satisfactory rates of vaccination.

‘The reason it doesn’t work and it isn’t providing the economic restart we need is that from now until December the first, we have this incredibly difficult situation for our local businesses to navigate, where a huge portion of our population can’t access their premises and can’t access their services.

Not financially viable

Cr Bird said that for a number of businesses in our region, this situation is not financially viable because every customer counts. ’They can’t survive if only 50 per cent of people are able to access their premises and engage with them, which speaks to the [fourth] point of my motion, that we need to retain financial support until we are properly back on our feet and able to get our economy restarted.

‘I know it’s going to be confusing if they do change the rules for us because the whole thing is incredibly confusing and changing it again will be confusing, but we’re all very used to change with so many adjustments being made already.

‘The primary ask of this motion is for access to be given to people who have had one dose of a vaccine.

The second one is really important because currently in the rules from November the first, anyone who doesn’t have double dose vaccination won’t be able to attend their place of work, and that’s reasonably significant for us here in the regions there are plenty of people who have had the AstraZeneca, who are telling me that they have significant wait times between the first dose and the second, and they won’t be able to work. I understand that the wait time can be shortened now but it’s yet another confusing situation for people to manage.

The ‘too hard’ basket

‘Already businesses are really having a lot of trouble managing staff, so many businesses have just said: “this is in the too hard basket, I can’t deal with it”. “I don’t have access to fully vaccinated staff and even then I don’t have enough staff to sit on the door and check vaccination rates”.

I absolutely acknowledge that we are in a pandemic, it is a serious public health situation, and we do need to manage it, but it’s abundantly clear that with the new state government it is economic recovery full steam ahead.

‘From my perspective, what we should be calling for is another adjustment of the rules to suit our regional communities, to allow our businesses a bit of breathing space to be able to get back on their feet, and to allow our communities some functionality.

The current roadmap just unworkable

The current roadmap is just unworkable, 50 per cent of our community can’t access things like, they can’t go and buy clothes or underpants. It’s just bizarre.

‘Actually, I thought about that – they can get underpants: from Woolworths – but anyway…’

Councillors backed the motion unanimously.

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  1. People have had access to Astrazeneca for well over the ideal twelve week waiting period to get a second dose.

    So if they are still waiting for that second dose, it is due to their own decision to not vaccinate for quite some time after it became available – in the middle of the Delta outbreak.

    So Elly, explain to those of us who chose to be vaccinated why we should be subject to the extra risk of contact with those who chose not to be.

    Explain to us why, when our children cannot be vaccinated, why you want them exposed to more risk – including from the 50% of teachers who chose not to be vaccinated.

    Tell us why Elly. Why do you think we should have to take the extra risk to accommodate the poor decision-making of others?

  2. Shane 12 weeks ago, under 40s in this area could not get appointments for AZ and the supply of Pfizer to the regions was extremely scare and limited to high priority groups (teachers not considered in this mix). Appointments for Pfizer were months away.

    Those who wanted to go with AZ when it was eventually approved faced reluctance from local providers and the dilemma of trying to calculate the fastest route to full vaccination with a 12 week recommended gap for AZ compared with three weeks for Pfizer.

    What’s the bet that come Monday (the new 80% date) we’ll have travel from Sydney to the regions, regions that have not had the same access to vaccination.

    Everyone has probably had a chance to have their first dose but not all those still waiting for a second have been left with much alternative.

    Basically if you’re not a Sydneysider, the NSW gov doesn’t much care about you or your business. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to decrease the freedoms of some in the regions on the same day the Premier was endlessly posing with a beer glass and promoting the idea of freedom day.

  3. Two things Liz:
    1. People were given the opportunity to shorten the timeframe between doses, making it even less reason for over-40s to be given special consideration on this – because they clearly have had ample time; and
    2. To the extent that under-40s have not had access for long enough, and (if!) not been able to shorten the timeframe, then that would be an argument for letting under-40s be treated as double-dosed (for access purposes) when they have had one dose and a booking for the second. It is not an argument for doing this for over-40s who didn’t take their opportunity.


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