RADIO INTERVIEW – ABC Canberra – with Lish Feyer
Tuesday, 28 September 2021
SUBJECT: NSW roadmap to freedom
LISH FEYER, PRESENTER: Time now to head across the border. So many calls and questions around how this is all going to be managed. As we ease restrictions both around New South Wales and here in the ACT. Are we going to be able to travel between the two? A bit freer? Joining me this morning is Kristy McBain Member for Eden-Monero. Good morning.
KRISTY MCBAIN, MEMBER FOR EDEN-MONARO: Good morning.
FEYER: Can you outline the easing of restrictions for people in New South Wales from October the 11th?
MCBAIN: Yeah, so from October 11. There are a number of restrictions easing, including, regional travel for people in regional NSW, people will be able to gather in groups of up to 20 and opening up of a lot more of our businesses. I think the hard part for so many people across regional New South Wales is at that point, those people that aren't fully vaccinated will lose some freedoms. So it's going to be a bit of a juggling act for a few weeks across New South Wales.
FEYER: In terms of that juggling act, has everybody in Queanbeyan and the region had ample opportunity to get fully vaccinated by this date?
MCBAIN: We know that there's been supply issues right across the country. We know that as of last Saturday, one of our medical practices had to cancel a whole day of Pfizer immunisations. That’s 300 appointments, because supply wasn't there for them, after their order was greenlighted. And then with three days to go, they were told, sorry, it's no longer available. And they were able to get some from Wollongong GPs. But we are still having some supply issues across parts of the electorate.
FEYER: So how is that fair? If you can only do certain things when you’re fully vaccinated, but people haven't had the chance to be vaccinated?
MCBAIN: Well, I think the other thing too is so many people have heard the calls from our leaders to get whatever vaccination was available to them, and some have chosen to get the AstraZeneca vaccination. Obviously, there's a significant lag time to be fully immunized. So we've got people who took the chance and went and got vaccinated as soon as possible with the AstraZeneca. A lot of those people are in younger cohorts and now there's a longer lag time till they're fully vaccinated. So, again, there's that juggling act between they've attempted, but the lag time suggests that they won't have the freedoms that we want to see from the 11th of October.
FEYER: 26 past seven, Kristy McBain is my guest. Lots of questions from people asking about travel across the border. Can fully vaccinated ACT residents travel across the border to go to venues as well from 11th of October.
MCBAIN: Well, no, not at this stage. As I understand it, you guys are still in lockdown until the 15th of October. There are a few permitted reasons for travel across New South Wales. I think the hard part for a lot of us is we know so many people live and work in and around the ACT. And we're still seeking clarification on what that actually means for New South Wales residents that have to travel into the ACT after the 11th of October.
FEYER: What about regional travel in New South Wales? When will that reopen?
MCBAIN: Look at this stage, obviously travel is permitted in LGAs that aren’t locked down. And they’re looking at opening up regional travel to Greater Sydney, for example, after we reached that 8% vaccination.
FEYER: So you anticipate that the whole state will be accessible?
MCBAIN: From what I can read through the New South Wales guidelines? Yes, I think that's the case.
FEYER: I’m glad to hear you're having trouble navigating it as well. It is a tricky document with so many rules and regulations and things to get across.
MCBAIN: And I think the hard part two is between October the 11th, and the first of December, from what I can see it looks like we're asking small businesses to police who's vaccinated and who's not. Which puts significant pressure on our small businesses who over the last 20 months has been doing it really tough and it really sets them up in a very awkward position when they should be concentrating on trying to get back to business as usual.
FEYER: Especially when people are still unsure whether everybody's had the opportunity to get vaccinated in our region. When will Googong Dam reopen?
MCBAIN: Googong Dam will reopen on Friday. I've had numerous conversations with people from Googong and Jerrabomberra and the resident’s associations from both areas, and we have been raising this issue with the ACT government for a number of weeks, and I'm pleased to say it’ll be open on Friday.
FEYER: Friday people can get out and about. You also wrote to the New South Wales Education Minister asking for the ban on school camps to be lifted in the region. Have you received a response?
MCBAIN: No, I haven't. And, you know, I've got kids myself. And I know a lot of parents out there who are saying, our kids are back at school as normal, regions open to travel, we can go to restaurants and shops, we can go on holidays, why are we stopping school based camps from going ahead? Especially when we know that we've got small businesses that are reliant on that industry? So it seems to me, if we can mitigate the risk in a number of other areas and industries and we should be able to do the same with school camps.
FEYER: And on schools, what about ventilation in schools? What's going to happen in New South Wales schools to minimize the risk of transmission?
MCBAIN: I think we know the risk is smaller in younger children. But obviously there will need to be some work done in some of our school areas, especially in school buildings, which are significantly older. A number of schools across this region need upgrades anyway. So I'll be having discussions with local P&Cs about what they think needs to be done to make sure their school remains safe.
FEYER: And in your Eden-Monaro electorate COVID cases are expected to surge in coming months. A lot of those coming to ACT hospitals, are your local hospitals prepared?
MCBAIN: I've had discussions with a number of our local nurses who are all rightly worried about the potential outbreak. We don't have health infrastructure that stacks up compared to other areas.
FEYER: Time for the news. Kristy McBain, thanks for your time.