Northern Rivers Nationals MLC Ben Franklin made the following statement after today’s announcement of the extended lockdown:
“Like all residents in the Northern Rivers (and regional NSW) I’m disappointed that the statewide lock down will continue for another fortnight.
“I understand that people’s relationships, businesses and lives are under enormous pain and stress because of the unique and very challenging set of circumstances we all find ourselves in at the moment.
“I would have loved the lockdown to be lifted, but the decision has been taken that we need two more weeks to ensure that our region is safe and protected.
“I’ve advocated for the position and priorities of our region to many senior members of the Government over the past week, and I particularly want to acknowledge and thank Deputy Premier John Barilaro with whom I am working closely to try to lift the lockdown for the Northern Rivers in a fortnight’s time.
“As long as we continue to have no cases in our region, I believe that ending the lockdown in two weeks’ time is critical for residents, businesses and communities alike.
“I am also working with the Deputy Premier, Cross Border Commissioner and others to push the Queensland Government to soften their current rules and appreciate the uniqueness of border communities.
“I believe that we need to work to re-establish the type of border bubble that was in operation last year. I will continue to stand up for our region and strongly advocate for all those impacted by the unilateral decisions of the Queensland Government.
“Some have suggested that a simple solution to our border challenges is to shift compliance operations on the Queensland border into NSW. While that seems like a superficially attractive idea I believe it is unworkable. Some of the reasons for this include:
- Such a move would effectively isolate one part of NSW from the rest of the state during a major emergency response.
- A law made in Queensland being applied in NSW is intrinsically problematic for a range of reasons including the ongoing alignment of instruments between the two jurisdictions, legislative and regulatory complexity, the principle of individual states’ autonomy and issues of precedence for future laws.
- The question of who runs the compliance and enforcement operation is very problematic. Allowing Queensland police to stop NSW residents from travelling from one NSW LGA to another is patently absurd. If NSW police are to run the operation they would need to draw significant resources from other areas to do so.
- The area of operation would be substantially larger than the current one and would require many more resources including the policing of numerous secondary and back roads.
- A significant number of people in the Northern Rivers live south of the Tweed LGA but work or utilise services (like the Tweed Hospital) in the Tweed. Many of the same problems would remain, just be moved south.
“I know this is a very difficult time for our community but if we all follow the rules, mask up and get the jab, hopefully the Northern Rivers can come out of lockdown in two weeks’ time and we can return to our normal lives in the not too distant future.