Border Zone Concerns Raised with SA Premier
I have recently been contacted by constituents about the challenges Far West New South Wales residents face in trying to access health care services in South Australia.
Unfortunately, with COVID-19 continuing to spread, there is still a clear need for continued vigilance. Now is not the time for complacency.
I can see merit in tightened border controls as part of State Government measures to restrict the movement of people and set some rules for those who have travelled from interstate. However, these restrictions cause genuine concern in communities I represent in the Far West.
The Parkes electorate shares a border with more than 480 kilometres of SA and numerous communities, most notably remote Broken Hill, rely on SA to access specialist medical care, professional services and boarding schools. By virtue of it being more than 600 kilometres closer, Broken Hill residents have much closer relationships with Adelaide as a service centre than with their state capital, Sydney.
I have written to the South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall, to relay the concerns and unique circumstances of Far West communities and to bring to his attention the burden placed on those who live here.
I welcome the SA Government’s use of a buffer zone for border communities in recent days. This zone approach does not address the need of Far West residents to access vital health services beyond that zone. I’ve asked the Premier to consider extending the NSW zone to include more Far West communities and to consider the health needs of our residents.
I also understand concessions have been granted to allow the transit of important agricultural workers and machinery. I welcome this and hope similar allowances can be granted for those travelling to access health services.
Numerous suggestions have been proposed, including redefining the border zone for those areas of low risk and absent of active COVID-19 cases. The rules for obtaining passes and exemptions need to be clear and workable.
I know the people in border communities, who live their lives on both sides of state boundaries, will appreciate practical solutions being found while the SA Government continues with its border restrictions.