Mr PASIN (Barker) (13:56): To say it’s a challenging time to be living in a cross-border community is an understatement. As members would be aware, the electorate of Barker, which I represent, stretches the length of the South Australian and Victorian border. The number of calls and emails to my offices in Mount Gambier and Murray Bridge from people seeking assistance to help navigate the South Australian state imposed border closure has been nothing short of astounding. I am hearing very many real stories of health services, education and employment being disrupted and people’s lives being turned upside down with uncertainty. It’s not just those living on the Victorian side of the border being impacted; it’s health services, schools and businesses whose employees travel daily across the border to work in South Australia. Many of these are being forced to close because they can’t get their staff to work.
Keeping our community safe and well is of course our first priority. South Australia has been incredibly well represented, and we want to remain as safe as we are now, preventing outbreaks that may be coming from interstate. But, when local emergency departments are impacted and aged-care facilities are understaffed because Victorians can’t come to work, we need to reassess how we manage the risks on the border zone, particularly when there is very little COVID-19 in that zone. I’m urging the South Australian Premier, police and health officials to be more understanding of the serious cross-border issues that are having such a detrimental impact on lives and livelihoods. We need a commonsense approach. We need to return to the cross-border bubble that operated so successfully up until last Friday.