"We're fed up"- border communities hit again

Murray River Council is fed-up with the State Government’s disregard for border communities, as it continues to receive desperate calls from local business operators who have been hit hard due to the recent restrictions in Victoria.

This follows the ongoing restrictions that are in place from both sides of the river; with metropolitan Melbourne still unable to travel into regional Victoria and regional Victorians unable to travel into NSW unless they stay within the border bubble zone only.

Murray River Council mayor, Chris Bilkey said this essentially wipes key business for the NSW operators in towns like Moama and Barham.

“All decisions surrounding these outbreaks seem to disregard that border NSW and its nearby towns are greatly affected every time there is an outbreak in Victoria.”

“Our NSW border region services a Victorian market, and has done for a long time, so it baffles belief that our region is just lumped in with the rest of NSW in the Government’s approach to each new health alert.”

“We hear about the unenviable situation the Victorian businesses have been plunged into, but who is considering the enormous impact these restrictions have on the businesses just north of the border?”

“Federally, Job Keeper kept local businesses afloat, but now they are sinking.”

Council is calling on the NSW Government to deliver a relief package for NSW border businesses similar to the business support initiative announced recently by the Victorian Government.

“We are heading into what was a fully-booked long weekend for local tourism operators to now have a wave of cancellations.”

“All because people can’t leave Melbourne or aren’t allowed in.”

“We are calling on the NSW Government to invest in targeted relief to help ease the pressures and costs of keeping border businesses open while these restrictions are in place.”

Cr Bilkey said whilst considerations around public health risks are vitally important, Council also believe restrictions put in place could be more balanced, particularly considering the mental health risks too.

“These continued restrictions affect more than tourism operators, pubs and clubs; they are detrimental to local butchers, grocers, car washes, petrol stations, fruit and veg suppliers and all related staff.”

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

"We have so many local stories we could bring to the table to highlight the detrimental effects this restrictions merry-go-round has had on our locals.”

Council said solutions can only be obtained by listening to those who live and work in the border region.

“As each change has been introduced, there just hasn’t been enough consideration given to the impacts felt by communities along the border.”

“We urge Governments to work with us on this.”

Council is encouraging local businesses along the border to write to the NSW Premier and Deputy Premier demanding a better approach to managing the ongoing restrictions.

“When COVID restrictions are imposed in Sydney, Sydney businesses suffer.”

“When it happens in Melbourne, Melbourne businesses suffer.”

“Murray border businesses suffer when COVID restrictions are implemented in both Melbourne and Sydney, so Governments need to work with us so that together we can come up with a more balanced approach to snap closures,” Cr Bilkey said.

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

This includes NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian MP, Deputy Premier John Barilaro 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.