A group of local councils from the border region of northern New South Wales have stepped in to demand changes to Queensland’s border restrictions.
- Six councils in the border region of north-east NSW are demanding better outcomes for constituents impacted by the Queensland border closure
- The Northern Rivers Joint Organisation (NRJO) delivered a list of recommendations to the NSW Premier, relevant ministers and the Cross Border Commissioner
- The NRJO says the border restrictions are causing untold economic damage to the region and hardship for residents
The Northern Rivers Joint Organisation (NRJO) has delivered a position paper to the NSW Government highlighting the impact the restrictions are having on the region covering the Tweed, Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Kyogle shires.
Organisation chair Danielle Mulholland said the strain put on the region in recent years by flood, fire, drought and the COVID-19 was now exacerbated by Queensland’s border stance.
“It’s separating families, it’s denying people the ability to earn a living, it’s stalling education, it’s jeopardising major projects, it’s delaying vital medical attention and causing untold damage to the economy,” Ms Mulholland said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told a building industry conference in Tweed Heads she did not expect Queensland’s border closure to change until after the state election on October 31.
However, Moree, in northern NSW, was today added to the border bubble to allow boarding school students to return home for school holidays.
Ms Mulholland said each of the councils in the organisation had about 50 infrastructure and commercial contracts that were delayed by border restrictions.
She said an estimated 11 per cent of the 15,7000 people who normally crossed the border for work each day were currently unable to do so, along with countless tradespeople, contactors and business owners.
The organisation has delivered the following recommendations to the NSW Government:
- A return to the managed pass system that was in place during Queensland’s first border closure period, valid for residents in six council areas to travel as far north as Brisbane
- Queensland to provide greater flexibility for non-urgent but essential travel for medical needs, including disability support or for compassionate grounds for families
- The NSW Government to help resource Queensland Police to operate border checkpoints
- The NSW Government to establish a $45 million grant program to assist small businesses in the region to cope with losses caused by the border closure
Ms Mulholland said the NSW Government needed to listen the concerns of the communities most affected.
“The joint organisations were set up to provide exactly this kind of advise to the NSW Government, so I hope they take this seriously,” she said.
“We know our communities, we are at the front end of government, we know what the issues are, we have articulated them clearly and now were are requesting some assistance to address them.