A community campaign has forced the Andrews Labor Government into an embarrassing backdown on a decision to lock Victorians who don’t live in the Vic-NSW border bubble from NSW border communities.
The snap closure of the Victoria-New South Wales border forced tens of thousands of Victorians to end holidays early – or risk being locked out of their home state. Bookings at tourism and accommodation businesses along the border, particularly on the NSW side, plummeted overnight.
Today’s decision to reclassify communities in the New South Wales border bubble as ‘green zones’ will help revive struggling Victorian tourism and accommodation businesses along the NSW border, but more will be needed to rebuild confidence
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said a campaign led by border community residents, and strongly supported by the Liberal Nationals, had forced the Premier’s hand.
“Tourism and accommodation businesses have taken a beating in the past 12 months, so to slam the door shut to visitors again – despite many of these NSW border communities remaining COVID free – is another hit our regional economies just didn’t need,” Mr Walsh said.
“But that doesn’t solve the problem of dwindling cashflow from a summer season sacrificed due to the Andrews Labor Government’s disastrous management of the COVID crisis at every turn.
“You only have to look at the unfolding farce of the Australian Open with Daniel Andrews paving the way for 1200 people, including from high-risk COVID countries, for a tennis tournament, while still failing to bring in any seasonal workers to pick this year’s harvest.”
Mr Walsh said it was now the Andrews Labor Government’s responsibility to ensure it connected Victorian businesses with the right financial support.
“When people visit our river communities it’s not unusual for them to stay on the NSW side of the river and travel back and forth to eat out or enjoy the different attractions our towns have to offer,” Mr Walsh said.
“By shutting the gate to anyone who doesn’t live in the border bubble, our local businesses in both NSW and Victoria have suffered.
“Victorian tourism and accommodation providers will continue to need more support as we work to bring visitors back to our region and rebuild confidence that by visiting and going over the river, Victorians won’t suddenly be barred from returning to their own state.”