Interstate regions luring Victorian searchers


Victorians are eyeing homes in Tasmanian and Queensland lifestyle havens as lockdown lingers.

Searches for interstate homes on realestate.com.au by Victoria-based buyers are up 54 per cent on a year ago, with the Hobart, Launceston and Gold Coast regions rising to the top of their wishlists since COVID-19 struck.

Househunters are simultaneously deserting Melbourne, with demand from buyers and renters plunging in pockets on all sides of the city.

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Over the past six months, the 25 regions with the biggest drops in average views per sale listing nationwide were all in Melbourne, headed by Monash, which was down 25.6 per cent.

Demand from buyers also plummeted in the Whitehorse and Sunbury areas, while renters turned away from Stonnington, Yarra, Glen Eira and the CBD, realestate.com.au found.

REA Group director of economic research Cameron Kusher said whether this search activity foreshadowed a “mass exodus” remained to be seen, especially with Melbourne’s physical inspections ban putting many homeowners’ moving plans on hold.

“For a lot people, it’s not worth listing their properties at the moment — they can’t put their best foot forward by having (professional) photos done, and having people come and have a look at it,” he said.

But the pandemic had made many Melburnians realise they could work from home, and accordingly move to places where they could get “a lot more space and more for their money”, Mr Kusher said.

That included commutable regional cities — “if you’re living on the outskirts of Melbourne, say down at Cranbourne, you might as well be in Ballarat or Geelong” — and interstate.

“Even if you live in Tassie or southeast Queensland and need to go into the office in Melbourne one or two days, it won’t be out of the realms of possibility to jump on a plane,” he said.

When asked this week about Melburnians moving interstate, Premier Daniel Andrews said: “We’ll get this health challenge dealt with and then we’ll be beginning the biggest program of economic repair and rebuilding this state has ever seen.

“As for individuals who may make a choice to find a COVID normal somewhere else, that’s a matter for them.

“We’ll wait and see if they come back … when we’re in a freer position to show the rest of the country and the world our inherent strengths.”

Devonport joined Hobart and Launceston among Victorian buyers’ Tasmanian targets on realestate.com.au, while Noosa Heads, the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Cairns represented Queensland alongside the Gold Coast.

Rounding out top 10 were New South Wales’ Byron Bay and Moama.

Many of these suburbs were also among the most searched by Victoria-based renters, with Adelaide, Canberra and Tassie town Burnie also making the list.

Ray White Werribee director Michelle Chick said many Melburnians who had suffered financially due to COVID-19 were also deciding they “don’t need large mortgages, or they can’t afford their large mortgages anymore” and seeking cheaper homes outside Melbourne.

She added others like Sabrina Groenewald — whose three-bedroom Wyndham Vale house is on the market asking $500,000-$550,000 — were pursuing warmer climates to help alleviate health issues that had deteriorated during lockdown.

Ms Groenewald and her husband, Etienne, planned to sell the 3 Ologhlen Drive property to help fund her urgently needed spinal surgery and a move to Flagstone, between the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

But the state government extending Melbourne’s physical inspections ban to October 26 had “shattered” those plans.

“We’ve been wanting to move to Queensland for years now, I grew up there,” Ms Groenewald said.

“Then all this happened, so my husband and I thought it was the perfect time.

“But with the real estate restrictions, I can’t sell my house, so I won’t have the money to buy the land in Flagstone and build our dream house.”

Ms Groenewald said she had even picked out a “prime piece of land” and hired a conveyancer in preparation for their move.

“I’m hoping the government will allow private inspections, maybe even auctions outside in the fresh air where people can distance, … so I can get this house sold,” she said.

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samantha.landy@news.com.au

INTERSTATE BOOM:

Most searched interstate regions by Victorian-based people since COVID-19 hit

Buy

Hobart greater region, TAS

Launceston greater region, TAS

Gold Coast, QLD

Noosa Heads, QLD

Sunshine Coast, QLD

Byron Bay, NSW

Devonport greater region, TAS

Brisbane greater region, QLD

Moama, NSW

Cairns greater region, QLD

Rent

Hobart greater region, TAS

Launceston greater region, TAS

Gold Coast, QLD

Adelaide, SA

Burnie greater region, TAS

Sunshine Coast, QLD

Brisbane greater region, QLD

Launceston, TAS

Devonport greater region, TAS

Canberra greater region, ACT

Source: realestate.com.au, from April to August

MELBOURNE EXODUS:

Biggest drop in views per listing since COVID-19 hit

Buy

Monash: -25.6%

Whitehorse (west): -22.4%

Sunbury: -20.2%

Whitehorse (east): -18.1%

Darebin (north): -15.1%

Essendon: -14.4%

Moreland (north): -13.4%

Yarra: -12.8%

Cardinia: -11.8%

Stonnington (east): -11.5%

Rent

Stonnington (west): -26.6%

Stonnington (east): -26.2%

Yarra: -24.1%

Glen Eira: -23.4%

Melbourne City: -21.3%

Essendon: -20.8%

Boroondara: -20.7%

Port Phillip: -18.4%

Brunswick-Coburg: -17.3%

Maribyrnong: -14%

Source: realestate.com.au, buy from March to August, rent from April to August



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Qantas may shift Mascot office to Western Sydney Airport, interstate


Qantas says it is considering moving out of its corporate headquarters in Sydney’s Mascot and could shift to Western Sydney Airport or interstate as it prepares for life as a smaller company in the post-pandemic future.

The airline has decided to lay off close to a third of it workforce since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, or around 8000 workers, and on Tuesday said it was looking to shrink its physical footprint accordingly.

The airline has decided to lay off close to a third of it workforce since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, or around 8000 workers, and on Tuesday said it was looking to shrink its physical footprint accordingly.

A review of Qantas’ corporate property footprint will focus on its 49,000 square-metre head office near Sydney Airport and Jetstar’s head office in Collingwood, Melbourne, which could be merged into the one location.

“Like most airlines, the ongoing impact of COVID means we’ll be a much smaller company for a while,” Qantas Group chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson said.



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Melbourne lockdown to drive exodus to regional Victoria, interstate


Tina Bull at her Monbulk house, which she’s keen to list as soon as restrictions ease so she can move to Queensland. Picture: Jake Nowakowski


Tens of thousands of Melburnians are set to flee to regional Victoria or interstate as a consequence of the city’s extended COVID-19 lockdown.

An exodus of as many as 30,000 people over the next two years has been forecast by leading real estate researcher Simon Pressley, of Propertyology.

He said this would mark one of the biggest ever swings in internal migration in an Australian city — and contribute to the double-digit price falls he was forecasting for Melbourne homes.

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“A hard lockdown of more than 100 days will (cause) the biggest shock to Melbourne’s economy most of its residents have ever seen,” Mr Pressley said.

“Whether they relocate to a Victorian regional location, such as Bendigo, Wodonga, the Great Ocean Road region, or … completely leave the state, thousands of Melburnians will take action to regain their freedom.

“People are also starting to understand (COVID-19) is going to be with us for years, and where there’s greater density, there’s greater risk We know there are people who’ve already left Melbourne.”

A Melbourne-based family paid more than $9.5m for his mansion in Seaforth, in Sydney’s northern beaches.


He said prior to Melbourne’s last property boom, a soft economy resulted in the city’s population losing 20,000 to internal migration over five years to June 2012. Perth’s economic downturn lost it 21,000 people to other parts of the nation over four years to June 2019.

Melburnians are already making moves, with a family from the city splashing more than $9.5m on a luxury home for themselves in Sydney’s northern beaches this month, without having set foot in it. Another spent $3.95m on a Gold Coast penthouse in August.

Monbulk resident Tina Bull is planning her escape to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast to seek out “warm weather, family and friends — and not lockdown”.

“I’m over it,” she said. “There are other (reasons to move north) that have been sitting there, this tipped me over the edge.”

Melbourne buyers also secured this luxurious double-storey penthouse on the Gold Coast.


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Ms Bull has engaged Ray White Ringwood agent Cameron Bailey to list her “dream home” of seven years as soon as restrictions on real estate ease, with an expected $700,000-$770,000 price guide.

She said she had “been renovating the whole time” she had lived at the five-bedroom house on substantial 1413sq m block at 65 Moores Road, including adding a deck for entertaining out back.

Mr Bailey said while Ms Bull was exiting the “postcard town”, he expected the second lockdown would prompt buyers from Melbourne’s denser inner areas to flood to the Dandenong Ranges.

“People have been cooped up. They want to be in larger homes, to chase the Great Aussie Dream,” he said.

“Employees are also realising they can work from home efficiently, (so) why do they have to be so close to the office?”

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samantha.landy@news.com.au



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BHP to axe interstate FIFO work as mining industry conforms to WA’s ‘hard borders’


All job advertisements will stipulate the requirement that candidates must live in or be willing to move to WA for the duration of their employment.

The company has offered financial assistance for interstate employees to temporarily relocate to WA, which has resulted in over 800 employees moving to the state.

The resources giant also offered incentives for employees already on the books willing to move to WA permanently.

Premier Mark McGowan has been on record urging resources companies to do more to move workers to WA or to employ WA workers first.

He said BHP had set a new benchmark for the rest of the industry, and encouraged other mining companies to follow.

Mr McGowan said the move would have a positive impact across the state’s economy, with more income generated from mining staying in WA.

“It means more West Australians will be employed in our resources industry,” he said.

“I look forward to more people making WA their home, just like I did when I was in the Navy and relocated to WA.

“We don’t believe flying in workers from over east is sustainable any longer.”

After the state closed its borders in April, the industry was forced to negotiate travel exemptions and strict quarantines for its interstate workers.

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“This is the time for the resources industry to rethink the way it employs workers in WA and move interstate workers here,” Mr McGowan said.

“WA workers should be first in line for WA jobs. There are many West Australians that can perform the roles needed in the sector.”

Mr McGowan has asked the federal government to assist in helping it fill jobs in regional areas while the WA border is closed, calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to allow West Australians to keep their JobKeeper payments if they take up employment outside of major population centres.

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AFL grand final moving interstate to be huge blow to Victorian economy


Losing the AFL grand final is tipped to cost Victoria’s economy between $50 million and $100 million.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan on Wednesday announced the game would be held at Brisbane’s Gabba on October 24, the first time it will be played outside Melbourne.

The massive economic blow includes the loss of local and interstate spectators, hotel and restaurant turnover, and other events such as the Brownlow, and the Grand Final Parade and breakfast.

The value to Victoria is usually particularly high when two interstate teams make the final, such as the Sydney and West Coast clash in 2006.

University of New South Wales economist Tim Harcourt estimated this season’s total loss would soar to about $340 million when considering that most games involving Victorian clubs were played interstate.

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AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan announcing the first-ever grand final to be played outside Melbourne.

But gaining the grand final would not be as lucrative for the Queensland economy, Mr Harcourt said.

The AFL grand final is usually played before more than 100,000 fans at the MCG, while the Gabba is looking at a maximum crowd of around 30,000.

“It won’t be the same as having it in Victoria simply because the attendances aren’t as large as at the MCG,” Mr Harcourt said.

“All the economic benefits are going to be COVID-adjusted.”

It is yet another cruel hit for Victoria’s struggling tourism and events industry, which first experienced a downturn during the summer bushfires, followed by the ban on Chinese tourists.

Warnings many tourism businesses may not survive

Over the grand final long weekend last year, $13.5 million was spent on accommodation in central Melbourne, according to the Victorian Tourism Industry Council.

“This year, our hotels are sitting at between 13 and 15 per cent occupancy,” the council’s chief executive, Felicia Mariani, said.

“The average room rate is actually down by 40 per cent over the same time last year.”

AFL at the MCG, crowd and field shot
The MCG would normally be packed for the AFL’s grand final.(Flickr: K. S. T, File photo)

She has warned that many businesses may not survive until the end of the year and is urging the State Government to commit to a $250 million relief package in its post-lockdown roadmap.

“Our industry is absolutely on its knees,” she said.

“So, we will have lost all of the growth that we would have realised over the subsequent years.”

But the majority of the focus must be on tackling the virus so that other events such as the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Open and the Grand Prix can go ahead in some form, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said.

“We need, as Victorians, to get the COVID crisis back under control and make sure that businesses can get back to work,” the chamber’s chief executive Paul Guerra said.

Victoria has an agreement for the grand final to be played at the MCG until 2058, although Mr Harcourt said the one-off interstate move was a good opportunity to see the benefits of holding it elsewhere.

“It’s Australian rules football, not Victorian rules football alone, so in some ways, it’s good to make it a national game,” he said.

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The Queensland Government made a pitch to host the AFL grand final at the Gabba in Brisbane.



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Canberra plans interstate flights to Adelaide, despite still being declared COVID-19 ‘hotspot’ by Queensland


ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr is attempting a deal with other states and territories that would allow Canberrans to travel interstate before other borders officially open.

Mr Barr made the proposal in the National Cabinet meeting today, saying the “safe-city pair” of Adelaide and Canberra were close to a travel agreement that could begin without any legislative change, something that might be required for other jurisdictions.

“I formally made the offer in the meeting that Adelaide and Canberra work together and we become the first national pilot,” Mr Barr said.

The ACT has had no known active COVID-19 cases since the beginning of August, and its last recorded case was on July 10.

But Queensland has deemed the ACT a hotspot due to the risk that Sydneysiders might use it as a port for travel.

The Northern Territory threatened to do the same after an outbreak of cases on the nearby New South Wales South Coast, but chose to issue the territory a warning instead.

The Canberra Airport has warned it could close altogether if borders are not open again by April next year.(ABC News: Kathleen Dyett)

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has indicated the state would require federal laws mandating that potential flyers disclose their recent travel locations before she was comfortable opening the border.

But Mr Barr said the SA Government may only require proof of ACT residency to allow flights to the state.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said the state may alternatively lift restrictions on the ACT and NSW simultaneously by the October long weekend, if there has been at least a 14 days without any community transmission.

“But we would need to see the numbers continue to track down,” Mr Marshall said.

“But, again, we’re super pleased to see New South Wales tracking down.”

During a National Cabinet meeting today, all jurisdictions except for Western Australia agreed to work towards enabling COVID-safe domestic flights by Christmas.

“I think today there was a good spirit and an endeavour to make this work,” Mr Barr said.

Hotspot definition ‘does not fit’ for Canberra

Another snag in the plan that would need resolving, Mr Barr said, was on a standard definition of a COVID-19 “hotspot”.

Mr Barr expressed concern in National Cabinet that neither the proposed metropolitan or regional benchmarks for declaring an area a hotspot suited Canberra.

“A trigger point for a hotspot for a metropolitan area would be three consecutive days of 10 cases of community transmission, meaning a sum total of 30 cases,” he said.

“We’ve had 113 cases in total during the pandemic, so that’s a very high trigger point for the ACT.

“Equally, the rural and regional definition is three cases, three days in a row, a total of nine, which does not seem to fit the ACT’s context either.

He said neither trigger was appropriate for determining when the ACT would receive Commonwealth support or impose harsher restrictions.

Mr Barr said he would prefer a nationally agreed definition, and so raised his concerns in that spirit.

Optimism for New Zealand flights by Christmas

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said today that negotiations had also resumed with New Zealand about restarting travel between the two countries.

“That means, when we’re in a position to do so … then we would be able to have New Zealanders come to Australia,” Mr Morrison said.

“That doesn’t mean Australians can go to New Zealand. That’s a matter for Prime Minister Ardern.”

Mr Barr said if that occurred Canberra could be one of the initial destinations, partnering with its sister-city Wellington.

“It is not going to happen in the next month or six weeks, but it is something we would like to see in time for Christmas,” Mr Barr said.



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AFL: Michael Voss has no sympathy for Vic teams having to win the Grand Final interstate


Michael Voss has no sympathy for any Victorian team finally given the task of winning the Grand Final interstate.

But the Port Adelaide assistant coach has no eyes on such a distant happening knowing any deviation from his team’s path could come with an unwanted “correction”.

Voss, who as Brisbane captain had to go on the road three times to win premierships, said the decision on where this year’s Grand Final would be played was “significant” in many ways.

That extends to the prospect of it being in Adelaide, with Port well-placed to secure top spot, home finals, and maybe even an “advantageous” Grand Final should the Power go all the way.

But it’s creating that launching pad, and momentum when it matters that is front of mind for Voss and Port who only have to look back 12 months to see how things can quickly unravel.

An 86-point loss to this week’s opponent North Melbourne, in the penultimate round of 2019, proved a dagger blow to POrt’s finals chances, and Voss said no-one wants a slip up like that ever again.

“We had a game around this time last year where we played North and they came off a bad loss and they gave us a good correction. That gives us a really good reason not to take our eye of the ball,” Voss said on Monday.

“We’ve been in position in previous seasons where we might have just thought ahead a little bit too much and it has caught us out. We can’t afford to do that.

“The expectation don’t change from the start of the season. We’re still in the business of qualifying as best as we possibly can. That should be a really nice carrot for the players.”

Port has finals hopefuls Essendon and Collingwood to come after the Kangaroos, and Voss said winning form was the best form to take in to the finals, which meant maintaining focus.

“It’s all about getting momentum. We’ve even recently spoken about that … we’ve wanted to see progressive improvement, build momentum … so we’re ready to go by the end of the year.

“I’d rather be winning than losing (going in to finals). Winning form is good form.”

Voss knows they could have to take that form on the road to win a Grand Final, but said that was not an “insurmountable challenge”.

“Interstate teams have consistently gone to Victoria to try andwin GFs. I’ve been part of that, Port Adelaide have been part of that,” he said.

“It will be a different challenge for say a Victorian team to have to go somewhere else, to have to win it from a completely different state. It’s a big challenge, it’s not an insurmountable challenge.

“But it’s exciting with the notion we are going to go somewhere else. “



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With coronavirus limiting interstate movement, Queensland is the nation’s sporting hub — is that really safe?


With so many of the nation’s sporting teams relocated to Queensland, you would be forgiven for thinking there’s one set of COVID-19 rules for sports people and another for the rest of us.

Because basically, you’d be right — but rest assured, that’s a good thing.

A majority of AFL teams remain scattered across the Sunshine State, while all of Netball Australia’s teams have made Queensland home.

The NRL is split across New South Wales and Queensland.

Many people have expressed confusion and concern about how this can be made to work safely.

But a lot of work has been underway behind the scenes to ensure the players, staff and officials can train, play and travel while limiting their exposure to COVID-19.

Here’s a breakdown of what their coronavirus bubbles mean and what they’re allowed to do.

What exactly is the bubble?

Each code has a set of guidelines thoroughly negotiated with Queensland’s Chief Health Officer (CHO) Jeannette Young.

The bubble refers to a designated set of players, coaches, staff and officials who are subject to tightened restrictions as they travel, train and make their way through the competition, so they don’t expose any possible infection to the rest of the community.

Netballers need to limit indoor gatherings to 10 people and only travel in team vehicles.(AAP: Dan Peled)

Those restrictions are generally tighter than the Queensland CHO’s directions for the public.

Those outside the bubble are limited in the way they can interact with those inside the bubble.

The restrictions also vary from state to state.

What can they do day to day?

Everyone in the NRL bubble must complete daily health assessments via an app.

On top of that, their households are checked to make sure they’re following the health protocols.

Designated biosecurity liaison officers assist with the protocols in a bid to ensure they’re followed.

A group of Carlton AFL players wave to their supporters in the stands.
AFL teams that came to Queensland have come out of lockdown.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

So long as they haven’t come back from a coronavirus hotspot, restrictions have been loosened and they’re allowed to go about a fair bit of normal day-to-day activity.

There are similar rules in place for AFL teams that came to Queensland and have come out of lockdown in recent weeks.

They’re allowed to get takeaway coffees or food, but can’t sit in a restaurant. They’re allowed to do essential shopping outside of a large shopping centre.

Netballers are expected to minimise their exposure to busy public areas, limit indoor gatherings to 10 and limit travel to team vehicles.

What about matches?

Travel is one of the trickiest issues, with journey between New South Wales and Queensland the greatest concern.

For interstate matches, those in the bubbles fly in and out on match days and generally don’t have any contact with the public on those days.

Venues typically have designated clean zones and venue zones.

A clean zone is sanitised and locked down ahead of matches and is only open to squad members in the bubble and a few other essential staff.

Everyone entering the clean zone is temperature-tested and will be refused entry if a temperature above a nominated level is recorded.

A Queensland Firebirds Super Netball player raises both hands as she celebrates a goal next to a West Coast Fever opponent.
Breaches of bubble rules are investigated by sporting adminstrators as well as the police.(AAP: Dan Peled)

What about partners?

In general, partners of players must abide by the same rules, sticking to social distancing rules and limiting contact outside the bubble.

Family members of AFL players who joined them in Queensland are meant to limit their exposure to busy public areas and aren’t even allowed to sunbake.

How is it enforced?

If a bubble member breaches a guideline, it’s investigated by the overarching body of the code, but police can investigate if there’s suspicion they’ve also breached the CHO’s guidelines.

If no state laws have been breached, the behaviour could still be in breach of the code’s guidelines and the person is fined if that’s the case.



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Queensland rejects pleas to ease interstate border restrictions for interstate boarding students


The Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association says it is devastated the Queensland Government will not ease restrictions for interstate boarding school students.

The Association met the Chief Health Officer, Jeanette Young, yesterday to ask for students outside the ‘border bubble’ to be allowed to go home for the upcoming school holidays, without having to quarantine on their return to Queensland.

Several boarding schools on the Darling Downs have been calling for the restrictions to be eased for students from towns including Moree, which are just outside the border bubble zone.

The Association’s Queensland President, Tammie Irons, said Dr Young refused their request due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission in New South Wales.

“The New South Wales Government have not imposed any travel restrictions across their state, despite the increasing numbers of cases within that Sydney area and beyond,” Ms Irons said.

“I guess they’re looking at it as in those people in New South Wales could travel potentially into northern New South Wales, western New South Wales and cause a new case.”

Mental anxiety

Ms Irons she understood the restrictions were in place to protect Queenslanders, but that it would cause anxiety for families that have not been together for months.

Ms Irons said students wanting to go home would have to undergo mandatory two weeks hotel quarantine with a parent when returning to Queensland.

“My understanding is that the cost would indeed be met by the individual family which is of course a concern for us,” she said.

“The costs … we’ve heard around the price of $3,000 for this quarantining, now we have to include a parent in that as well because a minor can’t quarantine on their own for two weeks.”

Dr Young said she had granted exemptions to allow students outside of the border zone to quarantine at school when they return to Queensland.

“Because the boarding schools have excellent COVID-safe plans, that we’ve worked through, I’ve given them the exemption that they can do that quarantine in the boarding school,” she said.

“They must have their own bedroom, a single-use bathroom and they get their meals in their room.

Boarding student bedrooms at Nudgee College, Brisbane.(ABC News: Stephanie Zillman)

But Ms Irons said it would not work for all schools.

“You’ve got some schools on the Gold Coast, for example, that have upwards of 60 students that are actually impacted by these decisions,” she said.

“There’s no way those schools can actually quarantine that number of students.”

The ICPA has also raised the issue with the Federal Government.



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Couple struggle to attend funeral interstate amid coronavirus border closures


Under lockdown in Melbourne, Heather King could not visit her father last week when he had to undergo surgery across the border in New South Wales.

“One week ago, I had a phone call at four o’clock in the afternoon saying my dad had what was to be a normal procedure,” Ms King said.

Soon the news got even worse when her father suffered complications.

“I received a phone call at two o’clock in the morning that he had actually passed.”

Ms King and her partner Kevin Seerup had to fill out a form requesting permission from the NSW Government to cross the border.

Mr Seerup says the process has been a struggle at a difficult time.

“Never in our wildest dreams did we think that we would have trouble getting to NSW,” he said.

“Particularly now when we’re more than happy to follow any precautions they want us to follow. But it’s just nuts what’s going on.”

Ms King has been given permission to travel, but she is only allowed to spend 30 minutes at her father’s funeral.

She is not allowed to spend time with her family away from the service.

Mr Seerup has been fighting to get permission to go with her because he is not considered what is called a “first-degree relative” under the new border restrictions.

“It’s just been incredibly frustrating. You know, it’s just this feeling of, it doesn’t matter what we do, it’s just falling on deaf ears,” he said.

Ms King suffers from chronic health issues and her doctor has written a letter stating that due to her “constant pain and intense fatigue” she cannot make the journey without Mr Seerup.

‘Logic doesn’t come into it’

Heather King said a battle with NSW authorities was the last thing she needed after the death of her father.(ABC News)

Mr Seerup says despite all his efforts, he has not managed to change the mind of the bureaucrats dealing with his request.

“The whole week I’ve just been uploading document after document of supporting evidence with a letter from the hospital. You know, all sorts of medical reports. Heather has certain health issues that need to be allowed for and they seem to make no allowance for that whatsoever,” he said.

Ms King and Mr Seerup proposed driving directly from Melbourne to Taree for the funeral, minimising any contact along the way.

But NSW Health rejected Mr Seerup’s application and suggested Ms King could fly from Melbourne to Taree and back via Sydney. This would require four flights, a hotel stay in Sydney and six transits through three different airports.

“Logic doesn’t even come into it,” Mr Seerup said. “We’ve provided all these reasons as to why what we’re suggesting is a much better option, and a safer option for everybody concerned, and a lot safer for the NSW public. And yet they’re saying, ‘Oh, no, no, no, we’re denying it.'”

Ms King said the bureaucratic battle with NSW authorities was the last thing she needed while mourning her father’s death.

“It’s been very hard,” she said.

“It’s very traumatic because we’re so close. I, like everybody else, adored my father. He was amazing. And just not being with my mum has been so difficult. I know my sisters are there but they also want me terribly, just to be together.”

High Court could decide closures ‘are not lawful’

A man wears a suit jacket and shirt.
David Bennett QC says border restrictions can only be imposed for limited reasons.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

Currently, every state and territory in Australia has different rules governing who can cross their borders.

But former Australian solicitor-general David Bennett QC said border restrictions could be imposed for limited reasons and the High Court could decide they were not lawful.

“The current doctrine of the High Court generally in relation to constitutional interpretation where you get that sort of problem is to apply what they call proportionality,” Mr Bennett said.

“And that means you weigh on the one hand the health or safety objective, and on the other hand the importance of keeping state borders open.

“The biggest factor will be the nature of the expert evidence about the statistical or the epidemiological evidence about how much you achieve by shutting the border.”

After 7.30 raised Ms King and Mr Seerup’s case with NSW Health, the couple said they were told late yesterday they had both been granted an exemption to attend the funeral.

Ms King is happy with the outcome but says the process has taken a toll.

“I hope anyone going through the same thing has the same outcome because it’s such a terrible time,” she said.

‘A real kick in the guts’

A man and woman with a young girl and boy.
Tim and Mel Garrett with their two children.(Supplied: Mel Garrett)

Tim and Mel Garrett live on the outskirts of Tenterfield, NSW, right up against the Queensland border.

“The border never existed to us,” Ms Garrett said. “It was just, it’s a line. No-one thought anything of it until now.”

She says they can legally cross the border but only up to a certain distance, in what is called “the bubble”.

“It’s just time consuming, confusing and the town’s been through a lot.

“We had all the bushfires, we’ve had the massive drought, and now to have this hit us at the same time when we’ve just struggled through all that, it’s just a real kick in the guts.”

Mr Garrett has worked as a fly-in-fly-out heavy tyre fitter at a mine in Daunia, Queensland, for three and a half years.

But Daunia is outside the travel bubble, so he has not been able to get to work for three weeks.

“I’m currently having to use my annual leave,” he said.

“I’m having to take it with leave without pay for every second pay, so we’ve got to be very tight with money.”

To get back to work, Mr Garrett has been told to leave the travel bubble and fly from Lismore to Sydney and then to Brisbane.

He will then need to quarantine at his own expense — about $3,000 — for two weeks before being allowed to go to Daunia.

But then he would have to stay in Queensland.

A woman wears glasses and a black top.
Professor Mary-Louise McLaws says someone travelling from Tenterfield to Queensland does not pose a significant risk.(News Video)

“I do the job I do to earn good money and create a good life for my family. And to do that and not be able to see my family is a bit of a kick in the teeth,” he said.

Ms Garrett says she wants the border closure challenged in the High Court.

“I understand why they’re restricting the travel, I get that we’ve all got to do our bit with the COVID-19,” she said.

“We just want to go for work. It’s for an essential purpose. It’s not just for a day trip or a holiday. They shouldn’t be restricting people for work.”

Infectious disease expert Mary-Louise McLaws, from the University of NSW, says she does not think someone travelling from Tenterfield to Queensland poses a significant risk.

“There has to be a nuance to this from a purely epidemiological perspective,” she said.

“It’s not a proportional response because epidemiologically people going from like-type areas seems reasonable.

“The Tenterfield worker not being able to cross it (the border) from a zero-case area into a very low-level [area] doesn’t epidemiologically make any sense.”



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