Murray River to push on with border region advocacy

Murray River Council

Murray River Council is continuing with its efforts to push for a shift in border-region-policy once the State Governments have dealt with the current COVID outbreaks.

This follows resolutions at a recent council meeting to put extended efforts into highlighting the ongoing issues associated with snap border closures and restrictions.

Whilst the current restrictions across both NSW and Victoria may put a halt an any immediate changes to visitor numbers, Mayor Chris Bilkey said council is still throwing its full efforts into working with governments to come up with sustainable, longer-term solutions for border communities in this new COVID-era.

“We’re not looking to heavily criticise a government dealing with a complex issue.”

“We want to encourage them to work with local community leaders to come up with a safe strategy that encompasses more practical economic options when faced with restrictions as a result of any future outbreaks.”

Murray River Council has invited other councils along the border to join them in the advocacy initiative and has been working closely with Murray Regional Tourism Board to highlight the full economic hit the region has taken – $1billion gone from the local economy along with 10,000 jobs – over the past 18 months.

“This is about putting forward economic data and stories to get the conversation to the table,” Cr Bilkey said.

Whilst council is looking to use the media as a platform to highlight the desperate situation of many border businesses, Cr Bilkey said the efforts really need to be thrown at offering solutions on either side of the border so that the governments can have confidence to keep the region green going forward.

“Whilst we resolved to allocate money towards this public push, we are hopeful that any funds will predominately be used towards a recovery campaign for our area when we reopen.”

“We won’t be throwing money at a quick fix because in reality, there isn’t one.”

“The stories of our locals and businesses should be showcased to highlight the economic importance of the region, so that we then have a platform to drive the conversations around longer-term solutions.”

Cr Bilkey said this should involve assessing the data and risks from previous lockdowns relating to how many people were coming and going across the border from hot spots.

“This is where we need to start the conversations; let’s look at the data, let’s create risk profiles and let’s come up with policy that more accurately takes these things into account.”

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