Service NSW expected to create new permit category for remote communities exemption

Residents in Bethanga, who must cross the Murray River and enter NSW in order to get back into Victoria for essential goods and supplies, will be able to access a new permit. Picture: MARK JESSER
Residents in Bethanga, who must cross the Murray River and enter NSW in order to get back into Victoria for essential goods and supplies, will be able to access a new permit. Picture: MARK JESSER

A new permit category allowing certain remote residents to cross the NSW-Victorian border for essential goods is expected to become available on the Service NSW website.

Federation Council learned on Wednesday that NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard would make an alteration to the public health order, which meant for the purposes of accessing essential goods and services, particular residents could cross.

"This is our first real win and we are pleased the government is listening to our communities' concerns," mayor Pat Bourke said.

Residents in Tocumwal, Mulwala, Wahgunyah, Tooma, Jingellic, Khancoban and Bringenbrong will be granted access to their nearest centre, only if they have no closer access.

People living in or near the communities listed in the first column, in order to obtain essential goods and services, will be able to obtain those supplies from the locations listed in the second column, only if they cannot obtain their supplies from a closer location. It does not allow them to travel inside the border zone for any other purpose.

People living in or near the communities listed in the first column, in order to obtain essential goods and services, will be able to obtain those supplies from the locations listed in the second column, only if they cannot obtain their supplies from a closer location. It does not allow them to travel inside the border zone for any other purpose.

It also means people in Bethanga and Talgarno can travel into NSW to access goods in Victoria.

An employee of Bethanga Pub was told by an officer at the Riverina Highway checkpoint that she should bring a letter detailing her need to cross for supplies.

Attempts to apply for a permit using the pub's address provided no option for a cross-border resident, or for the remote communities exemption.

Towong mayor David Wortmann said he believed people in Talgarno and Bethanga "had had some relief", but it was still very difficult for many.

"We've got people in Tallangatta who can't get to work, and business owners who can't get to their businesses in Albury," he said.

The office of Albury MP Justin Clancy received information yesterday that Service NSW was working to make a new permit category available to reflect the exemption.

People in Bethanga, Talgarno and Wymah will be granted access for the specified reasons.

People in Bethanga, Talgarno and Wymah will be granted access for the specified reasons.

Mr Clancy advised residents that to keep traffic moving when crossing the border, they should have supporting documentation ready.

"If you are a critical service or agriculture worker, for example, have a copy of your COVID safety plan with you, a letter from your employer (if relevant) and a log book in your car showing rest stops, meal breaks etc.," he said.

"If it's for a medical appointment, have this on your phone or print out the confirmation. This speeds the crossing for everyone."

In a statement about the exemption issued by Federation Council on Wednesday, Indigo Shire Mayor Jenny O'Connor said it was a step in the right direction for Wahgunyah residents, but "by no means goes far enough".

Details of the exemption

Details of the exemption

"We will continue to advocate with everything we have to convince the NSW Government that these new restrictions are unworkable for our border communities," she said.

Moira Shire Council Mayor Libro Mustica said Moira had multiple communities which rely on cross-border industry and business and would suffer because of the restricted border movements.

"Not only that, towns including Cobram and Yarrawonga have vital facilities including schools, hospitals and medical clinics which our border neighbours are dependent on," he said.

IN OTHER NEWS:

"Since the NSW Government indicated there would be a severely tightened criteria for crossing the border, essentially crippling all forms of business, education, health and general life, we have been inundated with emails, phones and face-to-face pleas for help and advice.

"We will continue to have robust, vigorous discussions with the NSW Government and our members of parliament to ensure the best possible outcomes for our communities."

This story Specified remote towns needing goods will get new border permit category first appeared on The Border Mail.