With the closure of the Queensland border still causing problems for Byron Shire residents needing health care as well as business owners, and workers, Byron Shire Council will write to the Queensland Government asking for it to consider reverting to the border restrictions that were in place from March to July this year.
Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson, moved a Mayoral Minute at the August Ordinary Council meeting saying the border closure was continuing to have huge ramifications for border communities.
“Just as the welfare of Byron Shire residents is my primary consideration as Mayor, I understand that the QLD Government’s priority is its residents when it comes to COVID-19,” Mayor Richardson said.
“Should reverting to the previous border restrictions be off the table as an option Council requests the border bubble be extended to the north of Brisbane and to the southern border of the Ballina Shire.
“Though we have appreciated the NSW Government’s efforts in trying to get its Queensland counterparts to relax some restrictions, I call upon the State to now step in and look at ways to help those of us in Byron Shire and northern New South Wales, given the huge impact the border closures are having on the health and welfare of our communities and the local economy,” he said.
Byron Shire Council is also asking the NSW Government to impose intrastate travel restrictions to the border bubble areas from any NSW COVID-19 hotspots to protect rural and regional areas such as the Byron Shire, and the Northern Rivers more widely.
“This would give confidence to the QLD Government to consider relaxing border restrictions keeping in mind there are no active cases in this region,” Mayor Richardson said.
Should this not be an option for the NSW Government, Council would ask the State to provide financial support to residents and businesses who are negatively impacted by the border closures, similar to any measures in place in the southern border region.
Additionally – if the border impasse continues beyond the next several weeks, the NSW Government is asked to consider providing specialist medical support in the Northern Rivers for those people who cannot get access to health services in Queensland.
“Byron and Northern NSW residents pay taxes to the NSW Government and in return, deserve acceptable levels of health services.
“Though using QLD medical services has been occurring for many years, our residents should not be denied the services available elsewhere through no fault of our own.
“Our residents are stuck between historic cross border sharing of health services, a unique virus besetting us and state government differences.
“We call upon the NSW Government to step up for us and step into the breach and fill the void created by the border closures – either by providing temporary health services, or subsidising our isolation costs to access health services in Queensland.
“We need to create solutions and we would thank and honour our State Government if they can not only acknowledge that some of our people, NSW people, have had their livelihoods and businesses destroyed at a whim, but also outline concrete ways they can and will assist us.
“As we work through this it is important that Council acknowledges and appreciates the work the Australian and all state governments have been doing to keep our communities safe during this pandemic,” Mayor Richardson said.
“Now we need them to keep being brave, keep putting people first, and keep helping residents with the support they need.”