Deja-vu over border closure

Deja-vu over NSW-Vic border closure

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BORDER CLOSURE: The Victorian border has been effectively closed to NSW and the ACT, except for Victorian residents returning on a red zone permit, certain types of workers and those living in a bubble along the Murray River.

BORDER CLOSURE: The Victorian border has been effectively closed to NSW and the ACT, except for Victorian residents returning on a red zone permit, certain types of workers and those living in a bubble along the Murray River.

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Border closure frustration again being expressed.

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Victorian farmers and contractors say they fear the closure of the NSW-Victorian border will see a repeat of last year's travel nightmare.

The Victorian border has been effectively closed to NSW and the ACT, except for Victorian residents returning on a red zone permit, certain types of workers and those living in a 100 kilometre bubble along the Murray River.

Mick Finley, Mercon Harvesting contract harvestingand haulage, Echuca, said he had no faith in the authorities.

"It's been like this for nearly two years and nothing has changed - common sense is going downhill, not uphill," Mr Finlay said.

He had started to move headers to Queensland, in preparation for the harvest, which would begin in just over two months.

"Once again we are stopped in our tracks," Mr Finlay said.

'We had been moving machinery in anticipation of some sort of closure but they beat us to it.

"You have to wonder what sort of mess harvest time will be again."

He said he still had five headers in Victoria, which were ready to go interstate.

'We are pretty well locked down at the moment, we can get out, but we can't get back in," he said.

There was also machinery on the other side of the border, which had to be brought back to Victoria for repairs.

Mr Finlay said it took six weeks to cart gear to harvesting sites, but staff were expected to go into quarantine when they returned to Victoria.

"None of the guys is willing to get tested, so they just refuse to go.

"Even if they go and get tested, or if they are vaccinated, they still have to isolate for two weeks."

Read more:NSW border closure to disrupt ASWS entries

Last year repeated

And Swan Hill contractor Coby Pearce said he feared a repeat of last year.

'We have land over the river, near Balranald, NSW," Mr Pearce said.

"Last it cost us significantly because we couldn't get up there to spray - we couldn't even get our agronomist to go up and have a look.

"It cost us more than $100,000, because the weeds got away and Russian Wheat Aphid got into the crop - it went from being a 2.5-2.7 tonnes per hectare crop down to about 0.6t/ha."

Mr Pearce said he was share-farming the Hatfield property and intended to go up next week to spread urea and spray.

That plan was now up in the air, as the property was outside the border bubble.

"It's beyond ridiculous," he said.

"Where we are heading, up towards Ivanhoe, there are next to no human beings.

"They threaten to lock you up and isolate you, but when we go up there we literally don't see any other people."

Read more:Crunch time approaching for Victoria, SA harvest contractors

Closure rules

Victorian residents can obtain a red zone permit to go into NSW, and return to Victoria, but will be required to isolate immediately, get tested, and quarantine for 14 days.

Residents living in the NSW cross-border area can enter Victoria without a permit but must travel with proof of address.

Workers in select industries are eligible for a specified worker permit, including forestry, agriculture, essential services, freight, rail, and vaccine distribution.

Victorian Farmers Federation Grains Group president Ash Fraser, Rutherglen, said those in the border bubble should be okay.

"Victoria doesn't have a permit system, you just have to have proof of address - if you are living in the border bubble, its business as usual," Mr Fraser said.

"Albury Wodonga is not too bad in that you have two significant crossings.

"But in places like Echuca, where they have one lane and are stopping and checking everyone, those delays will become very, very onerous."

Shirley Sprenger and Mark Cheshire, Burrowye, run sheep on a property just south of the Murray River.

Ms Sprenger said it was a case of "here we go again.

"Thankfully, in the short term, we don't have any need to go any further than the bubble," Ms Sprenger said.

She said she and Mr Cheshire were expecting to spend "the better part of winter" in some kind of lockdown.

'We planned to do this year's big events for the farm as much away as possible from June to August," Ms Sprenger said.

"After last year, we couldn't sit back and say, 'well, they'll sort it out for us.'

"I don't have lot of faith, regardless of whether its at a state or federal level, at the moment."

Ms Sprenger said it highlighted the need for farmers to be aware things could change suddenly.

"If we can't go to Corowa, at some point, what are our other options?"

"We are trying to make more processor connections so we can have a bit of a back up plan, so we are not locked into one market.

'I think all of agriculture needs to be looking at other markets, to ensure diversification."

The story Deja-vu over border closure first appeared on Stock & Land.

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