Wodonga Mayor slams Gladys Berejiklian’s ‘disrespectful’ visit to NSW-Victorian border

The Mayor of the Victorian border town Wodonga has slammed Gladys Berejiklian’s trip to the region, labelling it “incredibly disappointing and disrespectful”.

The New South Wales Premier was in Albury yesterday to announce the border zone would be expanded from 2.5km to 50km, allowing more residents to cross for work, access essential goods and services, and for care and compassionate reasons.

But Anna Speedie said Ms Berejiklian was not interested in meeting her nor listening to the concerns of her community.

“This isn’t about myself … this is actually about the Premier hearing our community’s voice,” the Mayor said.

“We had the Deputy Premier up here last week; he actually sat with different industries, with ourselves, with health workers.

“He was really shocked at the stories that he heard, and it was actually him who put our case to the Premier.”

Anna Speedie is the Mayor of Wodonga.(ABC News)

‘Wasn’t really interested’

Ms Speedie requested a meeting with the Premier, which was initially rejected before they met briefly following a media conference.

“To say that she wasn’t really interested in speaking with me, would have been an understatement,” Ms Speedie said.

“The closure of the border has hurt Victorians more than it’s hurt New South Wales, and to be disrespectful and have no intent of speaking with us to hear and listen, I don’t think is good enough.

“This will now be the fourth change in this border closure process — can we please make sure that we’ve learned from each one of the closures before?

“Each time we’ve seen a change, we’ve had to pick up emergency workers and pick them up in a hurry because they’ve forgotten to include them.

“This is another elected leader to an elected leader and we should have met.”

The border of Vic and NSW
Residents within the 50km radius will be able to apply for a new permit.(ABC News: Christopher Testa)

Waiting game

Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines said she was disappointed Ms Berejiklian did not visit earlier.

“I am dismayed that it’s taken until now for the Premier to arrive on the border and to see with her own eyes the impact of the border closure.”

Dr Haines said she was not going to celebrate until it was clearer how the new border zone would work.

“I’m not going to be satisfied until I see some detail on this,” she said.

“I want to be sure that our communities … that have been so badly affected and left out first time round, second time round and third time round on border closures, are now included so that they can get on with everyday life.”

The Premier’s office has been contacted for comment.

Source link

Canberrans who had been stuck at the NSW-Victorian border begin to return home to the ACT

The first returnees who had been stuck in Victoria waiting NSW Government approval to travel home to Canberra have begun to trickle in.

About 100 Canberrans have been stranded at the NSW-Victoria border since Friday after strict coronavirus restrictions stopped them driving home through NSW.

The sudden change in border rules caught many travellers off-guard, leaving some forced to sleep in their cars.

After six days of talks with the ACT Government, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard gave Canberra drivers stranded in Victoria a four-day window to make it home from the NSW border.

Under the rules, the drivers had to travel between 9:00am to 3:00pm, have sufficient fuel for the whole journey and have a valid permit to enter the ACT.

They were also only allowed one rest stop — in Gundagai.

Gundagai Mayor Abb McAlister said he was unhappy that his town had been chosen as the place for the Canberrans to stop.

“Doesn’t sit overly well,” he said.

“I would have preferred it to be a rest stop on the highway — a lot easier to control.

“You got a business here that’s being used by a lot of other travellers and locals.”

‘Waste of time and energy’

Canberran Anne Cahill Lambert said the process of returning home felt like “a waste of time and energy”.(ABC News: Verity Gorman)

Canberra resident Anne Cahill Lambert was one of about 25 Canberrans who made the trip today and stopped for a short break so she and her dog could stretch their legs.

“This has been a long saga, it has been like sitting in a departure lounge for a week, so we are tired,” she said.

She said the whole process has been a “waste of time and energy”.

Another man, Joe Craddy, described the experience as “frustrating”.

“I was staying with a friend, so I was only a few kilometres away from the border but not able to go anywhere,” he said.

“I’m really excited to start my quarantine.”

NSW Police officers speak to people in cars at McDonald's in Gundagai.
Canberrans enjoy a brief respite in Gundagai, NSW, as they return home to the ACT.(ABC News: Verity Gorman)

As Canberrans reached Hall, just over the ACT border, they were met by ACT police officers and health workers.

Detective Superintendent Mick Calatzis said the checkpoint allowed their permits to be checked and give a reminder that they would now have to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

“They’re under respective public health orders,” he said.

“ACT Health have also got some welcome packs as well and they’ll be under quarantine and directed to go to their address.”

The welcome packs include grocery items like bread, milk and fruit to get residents through until they can organise groceries to be delivered.

A box of food with bread, lettuce, bananas and milk.
Canberrans were given a box of food as they arrived in Hall to support them in self-isolation.(ABC News: Isaac Nowroozi)

Source link