Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Bubble snub still in play


Lockdown may have been lifted in the Edward River Council region, but Victoria has not reinstated its place in the border bubble.

Deniliquin Local Health Advisory Committee chair Lourene Liebenberg said changes to lockdown rules in NSW and regional Victoria make no difference to our recent removal.

‘‘Travel to Victoria remains very restricted, for us in an extreme risk zone,’’ Mrs Liebenberg said.

‘‘In summary you may only travel to Victoria with a permit — transit or specified workers’ permit — with a valid exemption or with an exception for medical.

‘‘If any of this travel takes you outside of the border bubble, being Bendigo, Melbourne etc, upon reentry to NSW you must fill out the NSW entry declaratio­n form and follow stay-at-home rules for 14 days.’’

NSW Member for Murray Darling Helen Dalton has called on restrictio­ns along the NSW and Victorian border to be eased now that regional areas in both states have relaxed rules.

Mrs Dalton has also gone as far to propose a ‘ring of steel’’ be establishe­d around the electorate­s of Murray in NSW, and Mildura and Murray Downs in Victoria, claiming that ‘‘border-bubble residents would rather be cut off from Melbourne and Sydney than each other’’.

‘‘Given New South Wales border regions are freed from lockdown, I would urge the Victorian Government to ease their restrictio­ns and restore the Edward River Council area to the border bubble,” Mrs Dalton said

‘‘Most New South Wales border regions have been COVID-19 free for a long time — some the whole time, and others for more than a year.”

‘‘It’s cruel and unnecessar­y to deny people the chance to see their family or go to work.’’

The NSW Government says it will begin negotiatin­g on border restrictio­ns, now that a ‘roadmap to recovery’ has been establishe­d.

“We'll get onto Victoria now. And we’ll do the same up north (at the Queensland border),’’ Deputy Premier John Barilaro said on Thursday.

‘‘And in any of our other borders, to understand what their risk appetite is, what they're thinking, and we'll try and work that all out and come back to the community shortly.’’

Mrs Dalton welcomed last week’s lockdown relaxation in many regional areas, but also reiterated her concerns for regional healthcare.

She claims there are only six ventilator­s available in the Murray electorate, and that rural medical facilities are short staffed and under-resourced compared to those in metropolit­an areas.

‘‘Any announceme­nt of lockdowns lifting should be accompanie­d by investment in regional health, which has witnessed a systematic downgradin­g under this government,’’ Mrs Dalton said.

“And not just Wagga either, I’m talking about investment in proper rural healthcare.”

But the Deputy Premier has assured regional residents that health services are well-equipped:

‘‘We’ve made the right decision. We know what we’ve got in place. We’ve got Wagga Base Hospital, which is fantastic,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s also a new hospital going into Griffith, a $220 millionplu­s investment that's been staged in recent years and continues to be.’’

Mrs Dalton has also renewed calls to view the health advice on which reopening the state has been based, before locked down Sydneyside­rs are allowed to travel freely again.

She claims she has requested the data, and has been denied or ‘‘ignored’’.

‘‘I am a little nervous as the New South Wales Government has not released the health advice on which this decision was based,’’ she said.

‘‘We need to see justificat­ion for the decision to open the gates for Sydney visitors to regional New South Wales from October onwards.

‘‘We can’t afford a COVID-19 outbreak in our region, our hospitals won’t cope.’’

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