Urgent talks sought with SA police minister over hard border

Victoria is seeking urgent talks on SA's coronavirus hard border closure

Coronavirus
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Frustration grows over SA's planned COVID-19 hard border closure.

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BORDER FENCE: Border or boundary? It's both for the Tink family, of Victoria and South Australia.

BORDER FENCE: Border or boundary? It's both for the Tink family, of Victoria and South Australia.

Victoria's Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes has asked for urgent discussions, with the South Australian government, prior to that state's hard border lockdown, from tonight.

From 12:01am on Friday, August 21, the Cross Border Community Member category for travel from Victoria will only apply to:

  • Agricultural and farming workers with properties within 40 kilometres of the border,
  • Students completing years 11 and 12 (and those providing transport to and from school).
  • Visitors also have to have had a COVID-19 test, within the last seven days of travel, and can't travel more than 40km into South Australia.

Ms Symes has asked SA Police Minister Vincent Tarzia about potential arrangements that may be able to be put in place, to allow access to South Australia for residents of Victorian border community residents.

While she said the Victorian government respected South Australia's decision to act in the best interests of its residents, Ms Symes added the latest set of restrictions would be "extremely detrimental" to several communities and would damage small rural economies.

URGENT TALKS: Victoria's Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes has asked for urgent talks with the South Australian government, over its planned hard border closure.

URGENT TALKS: Victoria's Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes has asked for urgent talks with the South Australian government, over its planned hard border closure.

"The removal of cross-border community members as a category of essential travellers from Friday, August 21, undermines the cross-border communities of interest - socially and economically - that have existed across our state boundaries for decades."

Ms Symes said residents of some communities were facing inhibited access to food and fuel and round trips of up to 200 kilometres for those essential items.

"In implementing its own border restrictions,the NSW government has taken a pragmatic approach to analogous issues and provided an exemption to specified remote communities," she said.

"I urge you to consider this approach as a common-sense example of how to balance our residents' safety with the needs of Victorian residents."'

Read more:

Border angst hits all parts of the agricultural sector

Cautious optimism on new NSW permit system

Border barrier

Matthew and Lucy Tink's Serviceton property is right on the border.

"It's just getting more confusing, as the days go by," Ms Tink said.

"Our boundary fence is the border, we adjoin the border, with most of our land in SA."

The Tinks are running 1200 ewes, for wool and prime lamb production, with 1500 lambs currently on the ground.

"I was kindly told by a lady on Monday that we needed to move all our stock from South Australia to Victoria, to get them off SA land, if we wanted to keep looking after them.

"I informed her that would kill them, she had no idea of what animal husbandry was, and it was not practical."

She said she was unsure whether the current travel permits would still be valid on Friday.

"There has to be an agreement made by someone in SAPol, or SA Health - they just have to understand how farmers operate.

"It's an arbitrary line on the map, it's never meant anything to us, in terms of being a different state, or shire, it's always just been a boundary fence, for stock."

She said the property's shearing shed was also just over the border.

Contractor woes

Krystal Merrett, Telopea Downs, said she and her husband Russ ran a spray contracting business.

"It's pretty awful," Ms Merrett said.

"We are only 20 kilometres, as the crow flies, from the border.

"But, as of Friday, we can't get over to SA to get parts, if something happens to our self-propelled sprayer."

She said after a dry June and July, farmers were likely to start spraying cereal and oilseed.

"It's just picking up now, Canola is coming into flower and there is some height in the faba beans"

"If the sprayer breaks down, and we can't get it fixed, we can't work."

She said whenever she put in an application for a permit, it was declined within 15 minutes.

"It seems they are not even considering them, it's just a blanket 'no'."

"We are missing out on work, and farmers are not going to get their crops sprayed."

Mr Merrett said it was extremely frustrating.

"The people who are making the decisions really don't understand what the situation is," Mr Merrett said.

"It just makes it really difficult, when you are running a contracting business.

"People don't ring up, until they need the work done, but we can't get anything done and we can't get answers.

"It just goes to show we too for granted that borders didn't mean anything."

Plan frustration

Daniel Feder, Sedgemoor Holdngs, has has cropping properties at Servicetown and Bordertown, Vic.

He said SA Health required him to write a COVID plan, to show what he was doing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"But there is no template, there is no specific one for farms," he said.

"It's supposed to be coming, but I haven't seen this alleged template, so that's real handy.

"We have no guidance, things are just getting changed every day."

He said he'd also been advised there was a backlog in approving the safety plans.

"A lot of the region's economy is contingent on both sides of the border," he said.

"I do understand there's got to be a line, but I really do think they don't understand the economic impact, it's going to cause."

Mr Feder said he was already having to manage taking the coronavirus test, every week.

"Sometimes its five minutes, and then you can be there for half an hour to 45 minutes," he said.

"It's going to be frustrating, coming into harvest, and having to test, every seven days."

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