AFTER weeks of strategic and respectful advocacy, I was over the moon when I got the call from QLD to tell me that the QLD Premier was going to announce the expansion of the ‘Border Bubble’ to include the Local Government Areas of Lismore City, Byron and Ballina Shires, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes Shire from October 1, and the end of the QLD border bubble. It meant that the construction industry could pick up tools again, an area that was of deep concern to us all.
Prior to this breakthrough, I had also successfully negotiated for Urbenville (postcode 2475), Torrington and Stannum (both postcode 2371) to be added to the more narrow bubble or border zone, which included Tweed Shire, Kyogle LGA and Tenterfield Shire.
The Queensland-NSW border closure on August 8 has made it extremely hard for hundreds of my constituents needing to travel to the Gold Coast and Brisbane for specialist medical treatment, on compassionate grounds, or for work, schooling or relocation.
Together with my staff, we have made the strongest possible representations to the Queensland and NSW governments to help people resolve complex situations and I thank everyone for their patience, as we got through many exemptions.
The larger border bubble will improve lives and livelihoods. I have had lots of happy calls.
Local businesses are still hurting economically from the border closure. Business NSW Northern Rivers estimates that businesses have been losing an average of $10,500 a week in revenue, which simply isn’t sustainable.
So there is still an urgent need for the NSW Government to come good with a rescue package like the $45-million one it offered to NSW businesses near the Victorian border.
I am also advocating for more strategic support to help our region climb out of COVID-19. We have projects ready, the collaboration and the will, but we need our share of New South Wales’ available resources.
Some of the $1.75 billion owed to regional and rural NSW from the Government’s Restart NSW Fund could be invested in:
· Expanding Special Activation Precincts to the Northern Rivers, to turbo charge the regional economy through infrastructure investment, Government-led studies, Government-led development and business concierge services.
· Developing and funding a Regional Jobs Plan, coordinated by the NSW Department of Regional Development and enlisting the expertise of Regional Development Australia-Northern Rivers, Business NSW, local chambers of commerce, local councils through joint organisations, business leaders, trade unions and all local members.
The NSW Government’s Whole of Government Procurement Policy recently implemented for collecting waste from Health, TAFE and caravan parks on Crown reserves needs urgent review because it has already squeezing out small and medium size Australian-owned regional companies in favour of large, foreign-owned operators. Jobs gone in the regions. Not good enough NSW Government.