1 September 2020

Permit system creates 'border bubble' between NSW and Victoria

| Dominic Giannini
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Border warnings

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced changes to the border permit system. Photo: File.

A new residents’ permit will be introduced to create a ‘border bubble’ 50 km on either side of the NSW-Victoria border, allowing residents to travel between states for goods and services, healthcare and compassionate reasons, and for school and work.

The current border region only covers 2.5 km on either side of the border.

However, the resident must remain in the border region once across the state border, while Victorian residents who have been to the greater Melbourne region cannot cross the border without quarantining for 14 days.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the new region will come into effect at 12.01 am on Friday, 4 September.

“Of course any movements outside the border communities come with additional restrictions but in terms of people being able to tend to their daily life without unnecessary stress, we hope life will change in a positive way for people,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Hand on heart, that was one of the most difficult decisions I have made personally and the Government’s made during this pandemic, closing the NSW-Victorian border.

“It was a decision of last resort.”

Deputy Premier John Barliaro has also called on the Government to remove restrictions for agriculture workers crossing the border.

“The situation is now at the 11th hour for many producers across the State. We cannot stand by and watch farmers, crops and businesses face ruin due to the border closure with Victoria,” he wrote on Facebook.

“Our farmers feed and clothe the nation and we must do everything to ensure they can continue operating as smoothly as possible. NSW is an agriculture production powerhouse and this needs to continue, to help the economy recover after COVID-19, and bring many communities and farmers back from the brink after years of drought.”

A fortnight ago Mr Barilaro called for the NSW Government to scrap the border permit system, saying it was “cumbersome”.

“Seven weeks on, some of the numbers across the border are getting better. The risk profile is reducing and, therefore, there is an argument for a reset today to move forward,” he said on 20 August.

The proposal was shot down by Ms Berejiklian at the time, who said the health of NSW residents must come first.

“The last thing that I would want to see is the disease seeding in rural and regional NSW,” she said.

Ms Berejiklian used the same justification for keeping almost 100 Canberrans stranded on the NSW-Victoria border for almost a week after sudden changes to the program invalidated their permits.

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