SA optimism on border relaxation, Littleproud calls for common sense

SA Premier says Victorian hard border restrictions will be lifted as soon as possible

Coronavirus
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SA hopes to relax its hard border, while David Littleproud calls for common sense.

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COMMON SENSE: Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says state's need to adopt a common sense approach, when it comes to border restrictions.

COMMON SENSE: Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says state's need to adopt a common sense approach, when it comes to border restrictions.

The South Australian government says it hopes to relax the hard cross-border travel restrictions with Victoria "very soon".

Border residents have expressed anger and frustration about not being able to get to their farms, or gain access to services, due to the tightened border controls, which came into effect on Friday morning.

Cross Border Community Member permits are being issued for agricultural and farming workers with properties within 40 kilometres of the border and students completing years 11 and 12.

Visitors also have to have had a COVID-19 test, within the last seven days of travel, and can't go more than 40km into South Australia.

Premier Steven Marshall said he hoped it wouldn't be long before the state could reinstate the 40-kilometre "bubble", on either side of the border.

"This would be an enormous relief and benefits of those communities if we could go back to that as quickly as possible,' Mr Marshall said.

"We are acutely aware of the implications of these restrictions on cross-border communities, but nothing will be in place for any longer than it has to be.

"While there is a significant imposition on a relatively small number of people in Victoria, who need access to services, we will do as much as we can."

Mr Marshall said while coronavirus numbers were coming down, in Victoria, there was still cause for concern.

"Can I fully accept this is causing much heartbreak and frustration for residents in those border communities?" he said.

"We will not keep these restrictions in place for one day longer than they need to be.

"We want to lift those restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so."

Mr Marshall said the government made no apologies for putting the types of restrictions in place, which would keep the state safe.

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"We announced this two weeks ago, we wanted to give the maximum amount of warning before these harsher restrictions were put in place," Mr Marshall said.

"At that time we saw widespread seeding of the coronavirus across regional Victoria - this was of great concern to us.

"Recently, there has been a stabilisation and decrease in the number regional infections, but we're still concerned, we're still monitoring."

Evidence base

South Australia's Chief Public Health Officer Associate Professor Nicola Spurrier said the drop in Victorian numbers had probably been quicker than many had expected.

'When the harder border restrictions were considered, things were quite dire in Victorian, and we did have some cases seeding here," Prof Spurrier said.

She said she wanted to know how the Victorian cases were linked to clusters, chains of transmissions, whether the close contacts were in quarantine and the levels of testing.

"Only knowing that can we make really well informed decisions about the borders, we don't want to keep those in place, any longer than we have to."

She said many residents of border communities also felt they were part of South Australia.

Level three restrictions would also have an impact on getting numbers under control.

"I can't tell you exactly when (the borders will reopen), but I can tell you we will be looking at the information we have in a very detailed way."

Common sense

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has repeated his call for states to use common sense, when it came to border restrictions.

"Over 100 years ago our forefathers put on map lines that formatted our states," Mr Littleproud said.

"Since then, over that 100 years, regional and rural Australia has evolved past those.

"We've become integrated in terms of agricultural production systems, in terms of our community, in terms of our healthcare."

He said coronavirus had shown some of the arbitrary restrictions being placed on regional and rural Australia by the states had serious impacts on that integration.

"I'm just asking governments to use common sense," he said.

"I'm asking them to engage with the agricultural sector, with regional communities to understand the practical solutions that continue to help regional and rural Australia put food and fibre on your table but also look after their wellbeing."

Mr Littleproud said country residents felt as though the decisions being placed on them had been predicated for capital cities, not regional Australia.

"We can create bubbles, we can create avenues of commerce for regional and rural Australians to continue to feed and clothe you," he said.

"We're seeing animal welfare issues, we're seeing farmers who have done the right thing to spread their risk (by buying) properties in different geographical areas to be able to stand up to drought, and then when they finally get some rain they're not allowed to go and get their crops off or look after their livestock," Mr Littleproud said.

"This is where we need people in the city to understand exactly what we do and how we do it for them.

"Forget the line on a map, forget about the parochialism but actually look at us as regional rural Australia as a single entity and how you can work with us to do something different."

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The story SA optimism on border relaxation, Littleproud calls for common sense first appeared on Stock & Land.

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