NATIONALS SENATE LEADER AND VICTORIA SENATOR BRIDGET MCKENZIE: We are appealing to our nation’s Premiers to demonstrate leadership and compassion tomorrow at national cabinet.
We have seen the carnage that border closures are having in our communities, day in, day out. Lives are being ruined, businesses are closing, we’ve all heard the tragic stories about access to health care, we’ve got students unable to finish their education – it is just
absolute carnage on our borders.
It doesn’t matter if it’s NSW, Queensland, Victoria, or South Australia. The Premiers do have a lot of power in this situation and now it is time for them to demonstrate they can use it in the national interest. We’ve got a motion before the Senate today calling on the Senate to come together to recognize the impact these border closures are having on regional Australia – COVID-free regional communities. The nonsensical nature of border closures. I’ve written to every single Premier requesting them to provide me as the National Party Senate Leader with the medical evidence that they’ve based these decisions on.
Because we’re talking about movements from one COVID-free community to another COVID-free community and insane advice from state service providers to primary producers and families about having to head down to hotspots like Melbourne and Sydney to be able to access regional services. So we’re calling on the National Cabinet tomorrow to come together and provide us with a consistent definition of what a COVID hotspot is.
We could have had one of those in June in my home state of Victoria where we had 12 local government areas identified as having high risks of community transmission. If we had of shut those down swiftly and securely at the time, we wouldn’t be in this situation now. So we need commonsense to prevail. We also need National Cabinet to recognize agriculture’s role in our regional communities – a job provider, economic ballast; and also what it provides to our nation. And understand that national workforce supply chains for agriculture is how we deal with our seasonality, how we produce our food. So we need to allow that workforce to travel interstate.
SENATOR FOR NSW, PERIN DAVEY: I’m a near border resident – I am outside the new NSW border zone of 50 kilometres by a mere 20 odd kilometres. And as we know when we live in regional areas 50km is a trip to netball training, it is a trip to the shops, and our businesses, our workers, our staff, our contractors travel far greater distances to do their jobs.
What we are facing now in these regional communities along the borders but also throughout western NSW is actually a health crisis of its own. It is a mental health crisis. I’ve spoken at length in the Senate – we have students who are facing school holidays lockdown in their boarding schools because there is no capacity and no reason they can’t go back to school without having to isolate, cutting into their school term. These students are stressed, their parents are worried and they want to go home.
We need the state Premiers to see reason and give students the exemption so that they can go back to their isolated farms in COVID-free zones. We are talking about COVID-free zones, there are no cases of COVID in western NSW. Let our businesses and our students travel. Let the agriculture consultants who are so worried about their business’ future and how they pay their own bills, let them go back to work, let regional Australia start to rebuild our economy. We can only do that if we see an ag industry code and exemption for our school children and see some commonsense and reason being applied to restrictions.
SENATOR FOR NORTHERN TERRITORY, SAM MCMAHON: Well today is a historic day for the Northern Territory where we are seeing 160 plus workers from Vanuatu under the seasonal worker plan come to the Northern Territory to take part in the mango harvest. This is 160 of the 2000 odd workers that are required to get the mango harvest done in a very short space of time. So what is at risk here is not just our economy but our food security so this is absolutely vital that we are able to get workers in where they’re needed to harvest crops.
SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND, MATT CANAVAN: I just have a simple request of the Premiers tomorrow at National Cabinet and that is to take off the football jerseys and put on the little Johnny Australia tracksuit for a change. Last week we saw the Premier put on a Queensland maroon jersey in reference to hospitals, this week she’s been putting on the Brisbane Lions AFL jersey to get the grand final. I just say enough with all the parochialism and all the trivia, we face a serious issue in this country with the largest recession on record with the continuing fight against this pandemic. It’s time to focus on those things and less on trivia around football games and pointless State of Origin point scoring.
I just want to see a country where we can provide services to all Australians regardless of where they live, regardless of which side of an arbitrary border they live on. I want to see a country where we’re focused on getting our economy moving again and creating jobs again
because that is what we’re going to desperately need in the years to come.
Today we’ve got the absurd situation where on the front page of a major in Queensland paper, the Queensland Government’s message to the Queensland people is not how we’re going to deal with the recession, not how we’re going to fix the issues raised with boarding school students and hospitals. The Queensland government’s message today on this devastating day for Australia is we would like to reunite Powderfinger to perform at the AFL grand final next month. Now maybe if they threw Silverchair there as well it would be a good deal but who the hell cares? They’re a rock band from the 1990s, let’s focus on the economic decay and situation we face today.