MRC to hold extraordinary meeting to discuss border business crisis

Murray River Council continues to receive desperate calls from local business operators who have been hit hard once again due to the most recent border changes made in response to the Sydney COVID outbreak.

All of NSW is now declared a Red Zone when travelling from Victoria, restricting any movement into the NSW border region - and its businesses - outside the border bubble.

Mayor Cr Chris Bilkey said Council is fed up.

“We cop it in the neck wherever the lockdown occurs due to our border location.”

“We are fed up with Governments having total disregard for our unique circumstances; they just don’t seem to get that every time Melbourne or Sydney get a COVID 19 hiccup there are severe economic consequences for our border businesses.”

Cr Bilkey said Murray River Council businesses have been adversely impacted for 52 weeks of the last 18 months due to lockdowns and border closures; which is greater than Melbourne and Sydney combined.

“Our businesses are at breaking point, and we will continue to bang the drum loudly on the disproportionate effect these lockdowns have on our communities.”

Councillors are receiving phone calls daily from desperate businesses in need of financial support to keep them afloat.

This is on the back of several councillors themselves being business owners and feeling the tightening squeeze of the economic impacts.

“We have been fortunate to never have had a positive case of COVID 19 in our region, however we suffer the consequences of outbreaks in other areas, simply because we are located on the border,” Cr Bilkey said.

“Our business community is looking to the NSW Government to initiate dialogue with the Victorian Government to reconsider the status of the red border zone for Victorian travellers.”

“Or perhaps NSW could consider a hard lockdown of its hot spots along with significant financial support packages.”

“Any and all options need to be considered as our businesses are on their knees.”

An extraordinary meeting of Council will be held this Friday 16th July at 9.30am to discuss further actions to be undertaken by Council on behalf of its business community.

The meeting will be livestreamed and is available for viewing via council’s website: www.murrayriver.nsw.gov.au

“As people’s financial situations become dire- whether due to temporary business closures, no business or no shifts at work- great stress is put on their mental health,” Cr Bilkey said.

“We are now at crisis point, and we will continue to do all we can to make our Governments listen.”

Murray River Council has previously written to a number of representatives to highlight the issue, with no response thus far.

This includes NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian MP, Stuart Ayers MP – Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Chris Lamont The NSW Small Business Commissioner, James McTavish The NSW Cross Border Commissioner, Member for Farrer Sussan Ley and NSW Minister for Western NSW and Agriculture Adam Marshall.

Another letter was also sent last week to NSW Deputy Premier, The Hon John Barilaro MP pleading the government to recognise the unique impact that lockdowns in both Melbourne and Sydney have had, and continue to have, on border communities.