Mr PASIN (Barker) (13:38): I rise to speak about an issue affecting many around the country but, in particular, I speak for those living on the eastern edge of my electorate of Barker, which borders Victoria and New South Wales. ‘Cross-border communities’ are what these communities have come to be known as.
These communities have lived a really tough COVID life, despite having limited, if any, cases in those communities. These are communities which straddle two states, and not since Federation have they experienced much of a physical border at all. People have built lives in these regions—shopping, playing sport, going to school and work, attending medical appointments and visiting family and friends—on either side of the border, oblivious to its existence. Until border closures, that is. They meant that these everyday activities now include checkpoints, travel permits, testing, face masks, sporting competition cancellations and school holidays spent away from family and friends.
The social cost is immense, but the economic cost is too. The cost to small businesses grows every time restrictions are tightened, loosened and tightened again. Our forestry and transport sectors are severely impacted.
We’re working towards vaccination targets to see lockdowns end and borders open. In the meantime, state governments must take a commonsense approach to restrictions in cross-border communities. Where there are no cases, there is limited risk. I implore state governments to gain a better understanding of these communities, what you’re asking of them, and why.