Deniliquin Pastoral Times
‘‘Unnecessary and potentially dangerous.’’
That is how Edward River Council Mayor Norm Brennan has described the Victorian Government’s decision to exclude the local government area from the NSW-Victoria ‘border bubble’.
It is one of eight removed from the bubble by Victoria, the others being Victorian LGAs Greater Bendigo, Greater Shepparton, City of Benalla, Buloke, Loddon, and Yarriambiack, and Broken Hill in NSW.
The exclusions were announced on Wednesday, and came in to effect at 11.59pm last night.
It means residents in those LGAs will no longer be eligible for a Cross-border Extreme Risk Zone permit to enter Victoria, or return from NSW.
Those who work across the border can apply for an authorised worker permit, on the Victorian Government website.
NSW residents will also be able to access some medical services over the border.
ERC was yesterday locked away in crisis meetings, and preparing to make representations to the Victorian Government to appeal the decision.
Cr Brennan said similar to the removal of Murrumbidgee Council from the border bubble on July 27, he could not understand the reasoning behind removing a council like Edward River.
He reiterated there has not been one positive case of COVID-19 in Edward River, nor any confirmed cases of community transmission.
Cr Brennan specifically raised concerns for those who travel to Victoria regularly for work, education, or healthcare.
‘‘We are 45 minutes from Echuca. Our nearest New South Wales town with adequate facilities is nearly two and a half hours away,’’ he said.
‘‘That is certainly not ideal for serious medical concerns.’’
Cr Brennan claimed the decision was based more on political tactics than on a fair assessment of the risk.
‘‘We implore the Victorian Government to not put our residents at risk, to consider we are all Australians and not state versus state, and to leave the politics out of this,’’ Cr Brennan said.
A spokesperson for Edward River Council confirmed ERC had only a couple of hours notice that the LGA would be removed from the bubble before the official announcement was made.
‘‘With over one thousand cases per day, and a trajectory of exponential growth, the risk that New South Wales poses to Victoria is bigger than ever,’’ a statement from the Victorian
Department of Health and Hu- man Services said.
Deniliquin Local Health Advisory Committee chair Lourene Liebenberg said the changes to the border bubble mean anyone requiring medical care across the border will only be eligible to travel if it is for ‘‘urgent and essential care’’.
Information provided to LHAC by the Cross-Border Commissioner suggests people are not required to obtain a permit to enter Victoria (or to reenter Victoria if they left for one of these reasons) if they are:
● Providing emergency or time-critical essential medical care or other urgent care
● Receiving (or accompanying a dependant who is receiving) emergency or essential medical care or other urgent care.
‘‘What qualifies as ‘emergency or essential medical care or other urgent care’ is not explicit, however the Victorian government does provide a few examples,’’ Mrs Liebenberg said.
‘‘Whatever your situation, you should ring your health provider directly for clarification,’’ Mrs Liebenberg recommended.
Exemption examples provided to LHAC include:
● Example 1: a person is a dependant of their intimate partner where they require essential medical care in Victoria and rely on their intimate partner to transport and support them to receive that essential medical care.
● Example 2: essential medical care includes medical care requiring continuity of treatment, such as chemotherapy or dialysis treatment.
● Example 3: other urgent care may include essential care for a person with a disability or a dependant of a person, if there are no alternate care arrangements available, but does not include ordinary child-minding services.
The PASTORAL TIMES attempted to contact Victorian CrossBorder Commissioner Luke Wilson on the changes.
A spokesperson for the commissioner said while Mr Wilson advocates on border issues, the decision and implementation is the responsibility of Health Victoria.
The spokesperson said Mr Wilson was not involved in the decision to remove Edward River from the border bubble.