Changes to the Queensland border zone … Picture by Richard Gosling
Changes to the Queensland border zone … Picture by Richard Gosling

Border changes a ‘relief’ amid ‘horrendous’ situation

UPDATE, 12.15pm: THERE have been countless difficult, sometimes tragic, circumstances arise from Queensland's border restrictions.

For those at Tweed Shire Council, the issue hit very close to home when a beloved staff member was terminally ill at John Flynn Hospital on the Gold Coast.

Her daughter, living in the Byron Shire, was unable to visit her.

But circumstances like this will be less common under an expanded border zone which will come into effect from October 1.

Tweed mayor Chris Cherry said the matter involving a member of the council's staff was a "very very sad situation".

Cr Cherry was involved in a recent meeting with NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, which was part of an effort in which NSW authorities hoped to "convince" Queensland to ease the border restrictions.

She said certain issues arising from the current border rules were particularly challenging.

"The compassionate ones have been the really hard ones to deal with," she said.

The construction industry has been significantly affected by the border bubble that's currently in place.

Tweed residents with loved ones in other parts of the Northern Rivers haven't been able to visit them if they need to travel to Queensland.

Cr Cherry said custody matters had also been a significant problem.

"Those shared custody issues that don't have a court order have been an issue," she said.

"(There are) health workers that haven't been able to get the exemption."

She welcomed this morning's announcement the Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Kyogle, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes local government areas would be added to the border bubble.

"I'm just hugely excited that Queensland has been able to do this," she said.

"It's going to make a huge difference in particular in our construction industry.

"It's a really big step forward."


UPDATE, 12pm: KYOGLE has been included in an impending expansion of the Queensland border zone.

While the Kyogle Shire wasn't included in the Queensland Premier's announcement this morning, mayor Danielle Mulholland has confirmed it will be included, but was simply left off the list.

Cr Mulholland told members of an online community page Lismore MP Janelle Saffin had made enquiries with the Queensland Deputy Premier, who confirmed Kyogle was included.

"All residents in the Kyogle Council area have now been included in the border bubble and can travel anywhere in Queensland," she said.

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Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis has meanwhile called for the Clarence Valley LGa to be included.

"It is quite bizarre and certainly not based on medical evidence that Glenn Innes Shire is given the nod but the Clarence Valley is excluded," Mr Gulaptis said.

"I have written to the Queensland Premier asking her to reconsider and to accept the whole of the Northern NSW Local Health District into the so-called bubble since we are demonstrably COVID safe.

"No new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in residents of the Northern NSW Local Health District since 25 July.

"It is very much in Queensland's interests to open up to the Clarence Valley both for the small businesses that trade there and locals who like spending their weekend tourist dollar on the Gold Coast."


Original story: THE Queensland border bubble will expand to include much of the Far North Coast from 1am on Thursday, October 1.

The border zone will include the Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes local governments from that time.

Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright said while there would "always be finer details" to clarify, the announced expansion sounds "really good".

Cr Wright said he would be enquiring with the Master Builders Association to confirm whether their members will see the end to their border woes.
"What (councils) have been asking for as a joint organisation … is that we go back to what we had at the start," Cr Wright said.

"It just seems incongruous; there's no COVID (in northern NSW) and we can't travel over.

"The stories have been absolutely horrendous.

"Our local pollies have been absolutely inundated.

"I've been saying we live in a free country, we live in a democracy and I can't see my children."

Cr Wright's children and his 14-month-old grandson live in Brisbane.

When Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the planned expansion this morning, her comments suggested NSW residents within the new border zone could travel anywhere in Queensland.
"Border residents can apply for a border pass and travel around Queensland for any purpose, and Queenslanders can travel to those places as well," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"It's an important step in supporting border communities and ensuring Queensland's economy rebounds - not the virus.

"Our strong borders have kept Queenslanders safe and allowed us to keep our economy going, businesses open and people working.

"Thanks to Queensland's strong health response and falling numbers of the virus, we can now take a gradual approach to easing these restrictions.

"We will be carefully monitoring the expanded border zone between now and Thursday October 1, and if we suddenly see cases appearing in Northern New South Wales then these measures will not proceed."

Byron mayor Simon Richardson said the announcement was "a relief" in the face of an "increasingly difficult" situation.

"There were over 100 health workers north of the border that couldn't provide (services); emergency surgeons for our Byron hospital were stuck over the border," Cr Richardson said.

"There's not a sector of our community that hasn't been negatively affected."

He said the economic impact of the expansion would be "fantastic".

Page MP Kevin Hogan said he'd seek clarification on whether Northern Rivers residents would definitely be allowed anywhere in Queensland.

"If we're free to roam all around Queensland, that's pretty good," he said.

"That being said I still question the validity of having a border bubble.

"There's no reason for any restrictions between Queensland and NSW given that we are not a hotspot."

Richmond MP Justine Elliot welcomed the news.

"It's fantastic news for our community and I know many people have strongly advocated for this," Mrs Elliot said.

"I'm very excited for everyone on the North Coast.

"It's really good news."