RADIO INTERVIEW – 2CC – Breakfast with Stephen Cenatiempo
Wednesday, 21 July 2021
SUBJECT: Border communities and COVID restrictions
STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, PRESENTER: You know, we need to start to be fair dinkum, our government needs to start being fair dinkum with response to this COVID pandemic. You can almost forgive the New South Wales Government for its response because we're talking about 500 odd cases. But in Victoria, they've gone into lockdown for a handful of cases, South Australia, literally a handful, five cases and the entire state is in lockdown for seven days. But more importantly, it means that the borders to these states are shut to us here in the AC T. And it's all well and good for the ACT government to say, well, that's unfair. We've got no active Coronavirus cases here. We shouldn't have our border shut. But then they issue statements to say that anyone coming back from South Australia needs to isolate. There’s five cases in the entire state of South Australia. They say don't travel South Australia. But how dare they shut the borders to us? I mean, you can't have it both ways. And I think every government in this country needs to take a long hard look at itself from the federal government down to the state governments, the territory governments. There are a few people out there that are making a little bit of sense. So the Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain is calling on the Victorian Government to carefully consider the livelihoods of people living in border communities. And to make those green zones I mean, at the moment Victorians can't even get home but Kristy McBain is in Queanbyean and joins us now. Kristy, Good morning.
KRISTY MCBAIN, MEMBER FOR EDEN-MONARO: Morning, Stephen.
CENATIEMPO: This is important, particularly for your electorate, because you do actually border Victoria in the south and a long way from Melbourne where these outbreaks actually are.
MCBAIN: And a long way from Sydney where the outbreaks are too. And I think what all communities are calling for, but especially border communities is a sense of certainty. And we haven't seen that come out from the National Cabinet. There are no trigger points which explained to individuals or businesses when borders will be shut, which leaves us significantly exposed when they are. The Victorian and New South Wales border has now been closed for the third time. And whilst there is a border bubble in place, I think the hard thing for many communities is that we are now declared a red zone, which means we've been tarnished with the brush of our Sydney counterparts. And we don't have any active cases, we haven't for a long time. We have had no community transmission in our community at all. So it's very difficult for communities.
CENATIEMPO: Is this a lack of understanding of geography or is it just policy?
MCBAIN: Look, a bit of both I would say. I don't think that there is a realization of how much part of the Eden-Monaro electorate are reliant on Victorians coming over the border. And obviously with the Sydney lockdown our snowfields are put at significant risk now because they've lost their busiest time during the July school holidays. Just like the coast lost their busiest time over the summer holidays this year and the summer holidays the year before because of bushfires. But National Cabinet – we’re 18 months into this pandemic should have been able to agree on trigger points of cases, which would then trigger a border closure. That gives communities certainty.
CENATIEMPO: But I think if you held your breath waiting for National Cabinet to make a decision. I mean, firstly, it doesn't have the authority to make any decisions. And secondly, for from the very beginning, every time National Cabinet has agreed on something each state and territory leader has gone their own separate ways and walked out and said no, I didn't agree on that. So I think you're wasting your time there. But I mean, I get the impression that we've forgotten what we've learned because these border bubbles did sort of get to a stage with our working sort of 12 months ago. Why is it that we've forgotten how to do that?
MCBAIN: Well, there is a border bubble in place at this point in time between the two local government areas on either side of the New South Wales and Victorian border. The problem is that, that we receive tourists from a wide range of regional Victoria, and for Metropolitan Victoria. Now, I'm not saying not listen to the health advice. What I'm saying is, when everyone around have required restrictions, there is no reason that these border communities shouldn't be able to receive tourists from the whole of Victoria.
CENATIEMPO: I think that makes sense. Although when you say you're not saying don't listen to the health advice, I think we're learning that the health advice isn't actually the health advice anymore, too. So I don't know if we can trust that anymore.
MCBAIN: I think what we're lacking is that leadership. I mean, and you say National Cabinet run in place to make decisions. You've got the Prime Minister, and Premiers and Chief Ministers all there. Where is the leadership coming from that body?
CENATIEMPO: But what I mean is, it doesn't have any constitutional power is the point I'm making it can't actually make any decisions. It's I think it was a bit of a feel good exercise, but achieved nothing from the very beginning. Kristy, good to talk to you this morning.
MCBAIN: Thanks, Stephen.