Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis has written to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and forwarded a letter from Clarence Valley’s mayor, Jim Simmons, “urging” her to “once again reconsider the matter and include Clarence Valley in the new ‘border bubble’”.
Mr Gulaptis and Clarence Valley Council (CVC) made their views known following the Queensland Government’s extension of the border bubble to include areas to the north and west of the Clarence Valley Local Government Area (LGA).
The mayor wrote that he believed “the exclusion of the Clarence Valley LGA from the non-travel quarantine zone … is anomalous and unjustified”.
He pointed out that the LGA has “strong human and economic ties to South East Queensland”, and that it was the only LGA located in the Northern NSW Local Health District to be excluded.
Mr Gulaptis forwarded the mayor’s letter as a result of a unanimous decision at the September 22 CVC meeting, to ask Mr Gulaptis to lobby the Queensland premier on behalf of CVC.
In his letter, Mr Gulaptis wrote: “I appreciate easing restrictions is a staged process and you need to draw the line somewhere, but it makes no sense to exclude the Clarence Valley when all other LGAs that form part of the Northern NSW Local Health Service (stretching from Tweed to Grafton) have been included in the ‘border bubble’.”
He pointed out that the last COVID case in the valley was detected on March 28, whereas a case was last detected in Byron Bay on July 25, “so we certainly don’t pose a serious health risk”.
Speaking with the Independent, Mr Gulaptis said: “Border passage should be seamless – that’s what is so disappointing, especially when there are no COVID cases in the Clarence Valley.
“To exclude us is ridiculous.
“It’s bizarre, perplexing and unnecessary; I wonder what [Sir] Henry Parkes would think when he looked at a federation of Australian states; what he would think of today when the states have become so insular?
“We keep on saying we are all in this together; and I can understand if there’re hotpots there needs to be particular restrictions and suppression in that particular hotspot.
“But where there aren’t we need to get on with life so we can rescue some sort of normality as soon as possible; so we can live the way we were meant to live when we became a commonwealth.”
Mr Gulaptis repeated what the NSW premier “keeps saying, ‘there’s been no dialogue with Queensland’”.
“The only dialogue that I’m aware of happening is the cross border commissioner … trying to ease restrictions for border crossings.
“That’s the only dialogue I am aware of with the Queensland Government, apart from correspondence we’ve sent to the Queensland premier, and what my constituents have sent.”
“It’s all become tribal and not very united, the very antitheses of what Parkes was trying to establish in this country.
“In one short period in our time we’ve gone from a commonwealth back to being six colonies.”
Caption for Map: Only part of 2463 postcode – that which is within the Richmond Valley LGA – is included in the border bubble extension, which comes into force on October 1. Image: Queensland Health