Ag, freight continues to flow across SA-Vic border blocks

Freight flowing freely across SA-Vic border

Coronavirus
ESSENTIAL TRAVELLERS: Mason Galpin and Ben Brooksby, Warrawindi, Penola, with their dog Otis, say it has not been difficult crossing the SA-Vic border checkpoint at the Penola-Casterton Road with their essential traveller permits.

ESSENTIAL TRAVELLERS: Mason Galpin and Ben Brooksby, Warrawindi, Penola, with their dog Otis, say it has not been difficult crossing the SA-Vic border checkpoint at the Penola-Casterton Road with their essential traveller permits.

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The SA-Vic border has become a battleline in the fight against COVID-19, but luckily the impacts on agriculture appear to be minimal.

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The SA-Vic border has become a battleline in the fight against COVID-19, but luckily the impacts on agriculture appear to be minimal.

Border restrictions have been in place for months, but last week SA Police and the army began manning 45 unsealed roads and 20 sealed roads into Vic around the clock.

In the past 60 days to Tuesday, 85,995 travellers have entered SA, with 44,993 classified as essential.

RELATED: Online forms to help border crossings

But, there is some confusion for those living near the line on the map as the border has been strengthened..

Hynam farmer Angela Goode says because the Wimmera Highway checkpoint is nearly 10 kilometres inside the border at Hynam, SA residents beyond this point are being unfairly treated.

Previously, she says she has been waved through, but the new cross border communities form she has been asked to complete - the same as for Vic residents close to the border - states she could be arrested if she travels more than 50km into SA.

Mrs Goode says it is an "administrative error" which could easily be fixed by either creating a new form for affected SA residents, or moving the checkpoint to the actual border.

"We have SA plates, SA licences and do everything in SA, but because the checkpoint is not on the border, we are in no man's land and are being regarded as Victorians - it is totally wrong," she said.

A SAPOL spokesperson said some checkpoints were inside the border due to the need for telecommunication coverage and facilities for those manning the checkpoint.

But SA residents were not expected to apply for an essential traveller permit as long as they had not been in Vic in the past fortnight.

Sheep and cattle breeder David Galpin, who farms with his family on both sides of the border near Penola, says they have had no issues other than the additional time it takes at the checkpoint on their way back into SA to show their essential traveller number.

He understands the importance of a hard border, likening it to their on-farm biosecurity at Warrawindi.

"If you want to stop a disease, such as ovine johnes disease or brucellosis, entering your flock, you put up a hard barrier," he said.

"We are used to procedures to stop these things and it is no different with the virus, there needs to be a line of defence, we accept that and will work with it."

The hardest thing is the Green Triangle is a small state in itself and the two states co-exist with people across the border working in SA and vice versa - I know plenty of Victorians who go by SA time. - David Galpin

He says SAPOL are "doing the best they can" and the border is much more secure than when the Penola-Casterton road was only being manned for several hours a day.

"It should have been done like this three months ago, but they didn't have the resources to do it," he said.

"It is still not totally secure.

"If you want to get across you can get across, but there are hefty fines for the 1 per cent that do the wrong thing."

"The hardest thing is the Green Triangle is a small state in itself and the two states co-exist with people across the border working in SA and vice versa - I know plenty of Victorians who go by SA time."

Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association president David Smith praised the way SAPOL had enabled freight to continue to flow.

He says the most difficult issue for trucking companies is keeping up with changes at not just the SA-Vic border, but all neighbouring states, and ensuring drivers have the correct paperwork to present to authorities.

"We have seen cases of trucks caught at the SA border, but the police have been good parking them and giving them an essential traveller number so they were only really held up for about 15 minutes," he said.

Mr Smith says drivers are taking extra precautions on interstate runs and believes it is as safe as it can be.

"None of us want to get the virus either," he said.

"What we have got now is workable, yes it is an inconvenience, but we have to go that way until Vic is back under control.

"Long distance drivers would spend 98pc of their time in the cab, 1 per cent ducking into a restaurant to grab something to eat and the other 1pc loading and unloading."

Mount Gambier saleyards acting manager Jane Fetherstonhaugh said at Friday's monthly store cattle sale, the major meat buyers were represented, but there were definitely fewer Victorian farmers.

Luckily it did not affect prices, with steers topping at $2030.

All saleyards attendees were temperature checked and Vic essential travellers were directed to wear face masks at the yards.

"Everything we do is to keep the saleyards operating," Ms Fetherstonhaugh said.

"It is a fine line between going over the top and making sure we are doing the right thing.

"We want the buyers to feel comfortable coming, but we also need to protect our agents and yard staff."

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The story Ag, freight continues to flow across SA-Vic border blocks first appeared on Stock Journal.

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