Residents of Moira, Federation and Indigo councils reliant on having to go interstate for supplies may be allowed to do so, after an apparent late change by the NSW Government.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has endorsed an exemption to the public health order governing COVID-19 border restriction control.
Mr Hazzard signed the order at 9.30pm on Tuesday June 21, however this is still to appear on the Service NSW website.
It is believed the new exemption will allow those living in certain remote communities to cross the border to obtain essential goods and services, including food, fuel, hygiene products and disability support.
Mayor Libro Mustica said there were multiple communities which rely on cross-border industry and business.
“Due to this most recent border shutdown a large proportion of our businesses are suffering, our local economy is declining and an increasing number of small businesses are closing their doors,” he said.
“Not only that, towns including Cobram and Yarrawonga have vital facilities including schools, hospitals and medical clinics which our border neighbours are dependent on.
“Since the NSW Government indicated there would be a severely tightened criteria for crossing the border, essentially crippling all forms of business, education, health and general life, we have been inundated with emails, phones and face-to-face pleas for help and advice.
“We will continue to have robust, vigorous discussions with the NSW Government and our members of parliament to ensure the best possible outcomes for our communities.”
Federation Council Mayor Pat Bourke said this was the first real win for border communities under the new restrictions.
“Yesterday, councils lobbied heavily to State, Federal and the Cross Border Commissioner to immediately re-think the latest border restrictions,” Mayor Bourke said.
“Our border towns rely heavily on one another for a range of different services.
“To lock these communities away from one another was just ludicrous. “This is our first real win and we are pleased the government is listening to our communities concerns.”
Indigo Shire Mayor Jenny O’Connor said while this was certainly a step in the right direction, it by no means went far enough to addressing the dire situation that most of the shire was now facing.
“We will continue to advocate with everything we have to convince the NSW Government that these new restrictions are unworkable for our border communities,” she said.
All mayors said they would continue to lobby the NSW Government to reconsider restrictions for those workers who are not classed as critical and unable to enter the state currently for work purposes.