A Lismore City Council survey by the hard border closure with Queensland has revealed that it has adversely affected 98 per cent of the more than 300 people who responded, Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith said.
Seventy-three per cent said the border closure had a “significant impact”, with 25 per cent saying it had “some impact” and lightly under 2 per cent reporting “little impact”.
By far the biggest impact was on families, with 69 per cent saying the border closure meant they could not see their close relatives, followed by 38 per cent nominating access to medical service and 25% nominating employment.
“These results are extremely concerning and reveal the real impact that the border closure is having on our community,” Mayor Smith said.
“People’s lives are being put at risk, people’s jobs are being put at risk, and families can not see each other. It is totally unacceptable.
“These are real people we are talking about. The Queensland Government must immediately end this harsh boarder closure to Lismore residents.”
Lismore City Council launched the survey a fortnight ago after receiving a large number of complaints from community members about the impact of the border closure.
Of those who said the closure had prevented them accessing medical care, 47 people nominated specialist pathology or testing, 25 said it prevented them from receiving elective surgery, 12 related to infant welfare and 19 people said it prevented access to mental health services.
More than 190 people said they had difficulty accessing information via the Queensland Government health portal or found it difficult to keep up with rule changes.
“The survey shows people and families are under great distress. The Queensland Government must immediately adopt the suggestions submitted by the Northern Rivers Joint Organisation of Councils (NRJO) last week.”
The NRJO, which includes Lismore City Council, recommends:
- 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.
Mayor Smith said the results of Lismore City Council’s survey will now be sent to the Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin and the NSW State Government so that they can press the case for an easing of border restrictions.