ABC South East - COVID-19 restrictions, border communities and telecommunications

ABC South East - COVID-19 restrictions, border communities and telecommunications Main Image

20 July 2021


RADIO INTERVIEW – ABC South East – Breakfast with Simon Lauder

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

SUBJECT: COVID-19 restrictions and border communities

 SIMON LAUDER, PRESENTER: Now, there aren't many cars around with the Victorian number plates anymore. They’re one of the mainstays of the tourism market around he usually. But between the current COVID outbreaks in Sydney and in Melbourne, the only Victorians here are those who have had a good reason to travel within the border bubble. The member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain wants to change that. Good morning.


LAUDER: Thanks so much for joining us. I understand you've asked the Victorian Government to change the way it considers our border communities.

MCBAIN: Yeah, that's right. I mean, we all know that we're reliant on so many facets on our Victorian tourists coming up and far too often were tarred with the brush of our Metropolitan counterparts. And I think it's incumbent upon us to work together to make sure that our border zone especially shires, like Snowy Monaro, Bega Valley and Eurobodalla remain green zone, as long as there is no threat of infection, and we're following the health advice.

LAUDER: So in other words, would that allow Victorians to travel in and out of our region? As long as they remain within that that border bubble? They wouldn't need to satisfy any list of reasons to be crossing the border?

MCBAIN: Yeah, that's right. And obviously, this is now dependent on the health situation in Victoria. But there should be no reason that regional communities in Victoria and our regional communities within Eden-Monaro shouldn't still have the benefits of working together, to have the benefits of still being able to holiday. And we know that over the last year, we've become accustomed to a number of practices, such as social distancing and checking in so you know, as long as that health threat isn't in our area, as long as we're following the health advice then our communities shouldn't be suffering.

LAUDER: Do you think our communities would be willing to accept the added risk of allowing more people to our agents?

MCBAIN: Well, I guess it comes down to what is the risk? As we know, at this point in time, there are no local cases. We know that regional Victoria has largely been okay from cases. We have sustained regulations that apply in our metropolitan areas. But now is the time that we need to actually get some firm rules around regional communities continuing to operate. I think everybody's doing their very best. But we have been hit by a series of disasters and businesses and people here want some certainty about being able to see family, being able to plan for their businesses. And I think everyone is getting really tired of the uncertainty.

LAUDER: On the other side of the coin, there's a bit of anxiety we're hearing about people from Sydney who have second addresses in our region, perhaps a holiday house. Heading here, have you been hearing much about that?

MCBAIN: Look, nobody has approached my office about it. But again, it seems to be a double standard, you only have one principal place of residence. And if you're currently residing in the Greater Sydney Area, and have a holiday home in a different area, that's not your principal place of residence. And that shouldn't be the place that you come to, to escape any lockdown in your current principal place of residence. I mean, that should be fairly clear. And the New South Wales Government should be able to mandate that very quickly.

LAUDER: You recently spoke out about the National Vaccine rollout and you were unsatisfied with how it's coming into our region. Have you seen some more positive signs in the last couple of weeks?

MCBAIN: Look, I think everyone wants to do the right thing and be vaccinated. And I've been advised that waiting list is still quite long that people are waiting until October, for example, if they are getting the Pfizer doses. We want to make sure that both GPS and pharmacies can roll out those vaccinations in our area. There shouldn't be a criteria for someone to do so if you want to be involved, then they should be given the doses to be involved.

LAUDER: A question about the bushfires here from Keith he's talking about the coronial inquiry into the fires. He says the inquest into the black summer fires being held, with public hearings being held in Cooma and Queanbeyan. We know that's what has been announced so far. Keith wants to know, should they also come to Eurobodalla and Bega council areas to allow us to enlighten the coroner's inquest.

MCBAIN: My understanding was that there was some dates being put together. But I'm more than happy to have a look and see if I can find those additional dates for the area. If there isn't any, I will personally write some representation to the coroner's office because I think it's incumbent upon them to learn from us our experience during the black summer fires.

LAUDER: All right, I think they're still working on it to case so there might be some further announcements, and Kristy McBain are a bit happening around telecommunications and a community event coming up in Narooma with yourself and the regional manager for Telstra. Chris Taylor. What's that all about?

MCBAIN: Yeah, we've been to Dalmeny a couple of months ago, and there were some serious concerns about the lack of both internet connectivity and mobile phone coverage. I guess more so when we've been through the fire disaster. And it was prudent of me to bring along Chris Taylor to get residents and understanding of how potentially Telstra can assist in that. So we have a community meeting which will take place at Club Narooma which will be at 3.30 on Thursday.

LAUDER: 3.30 on Thursday, Kristy McBain Thank you for your time. Just briefly, one more question from Grantley in Bombala. He's asking how are you going with some doctors for Bombala?

MCBAIN: Look it’s an ongoing issue and one that I have been meeting with both the Minister for regional health, the local Primary Health Network and also that a Rural Health Alliance. We are trying our very best. There will be a meeting that will take place between Bonnie Taylor myself in the Southern Local Area Health District. We are also following it up and working collaboratively between the levels of government to try to resolve this issue because it's not just an issue for Bombala. It's an issue for a lot of regional communities.

LAUDER: Great to talk to you this morning. Thank you very much.

MCBAIN: Thanks Simon.

LAUDER: That's the Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain.