The Mayor of the Victorian border town Wodonga has slammed Gladys Berejiklian’s trip to the region, labelling it “incredibly disappointing and disrespectful”.
- Anna Speedie says she is worried the new border changes won’t be enough to help her community
- She labelled the Premier’s visit to Albury a “terrible play out of politics”
- The border zone is to be expanded from 2.5km to 50km
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.”
‘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.”
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.