From the Newsroom

Pollies: reinflate the border bubble

Geoff Helisma|

A multi-partisan group of northern NSW politicians is calling “for a regional solution to the border crisis”.

A Tweed Shire Council media release on Tuesday August 24 stated that the group was “urgently call[ing] for the establishment of a Tweed Cross Border Community Zone, as a solution to combat the growing border crisis”.

“The proposed zone would be established in the Tweed local government area as a pilot, with it to be expanded to surrounding LGAs should it prove successful,” the media release stated.

“The call followed a meeting today between Mayor of Tweed Chris Cherry (independent), Tweed MP Geoff Provest (Nationals), Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens), Lismore MP Janelle Saffin (Labor) and Ballina MLC Catherine Cusack (Liberal) in a show of bi-partisan support to work together for the benefit of the region.

“The group unanimously agreed to support and empower Tweed MP Geoff Provest, to make urgent representations on their behalf to the NSW Premier and Deputy Premier, [and] to engage the NSW Cross Border Commissioner, in conjunction with Regional NSW and Tweed Shire Council.”

The previous week, Tweed’s mayor, Chris Cherry, sent letters to the premiers of NSW and Queensland, calling for the establishment of checkpoints on the southern and western extremities of the Tweed LGA.

“This would replace the hard border control on the Queensland border at Coolangatta, Numinbah and Tomewin, allowing Tweed residents to return to work, hospitals and schools, while adhering to existing public health orders,” his media release stated.

“Should the initial pilot prove successful, the zone could be expanded to include the Byron, Ballina and Lismore LGAs and potentially be a model for other border or strategic regions in the state.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday August 26, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis issued a media release titled, Hope for Clarence and Richmond valleys despite lockdown extension’.

Mr Gulaptis said he had “joined his north coast Nationals colleagues in asking Deputy Premier and Nationals Leader John Barilaro to pressure the Queensland Government” to ease its border restrictions, “which are causing unnecessary pain for many Clarence and Richmond valley families and small businesses”.

“I believe that we need to work to re-establish the type of border bubble that was in operation last year, however, this is completely in the hands of the Queensland Government,” Mr Gulaptis said.

“In the past few days, I have discussed our local situation with Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who responded that our concerns would be taken into account – and she does understand that we need restrictions lifted as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Mr Gulaptis said that while he is disappointed the Clarence and Richmond valleys will be in lockdown for a further two weeks “like the rest of the state, he is optimistic about a positive change soon”.

“The decision has been taken at an executive level that we need two more weeks to ensure that our region is safe and protected,” Mr Gulaptis said.

Over the weekend, Queensland MPs, Laura Gerber (LNP) and Michael Hart (LNP), met with a Gold Coast City representative and the Cross Party Cross Border Taskforce.

“We discussed the importance of the border bubble for our respective communities and how well it has worked in the past,” Ms Gerber wrote on her Facebook Page.

“…I understand how important the border bubble is to the survival of our community, and continue to call on the Queensland Government to work with NSW to implement this sensible, safe, solution.”