19 January 2021

Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty has added his name to a letter asking Prime Minister Scott Morrison to set down uniform rules on what would trigger a closure, what a border bubble would look like and how the closure would be enforced.

Tim Quilty signs letter to Prime Minister asking for help to ease border closure damage

Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty has added his name to a letter asking Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help address the damage caused by border closures.

The letter, bearing the signatures of six minor party and independent Victorian and NSW MPs, requests the National Cabinet set down a uniform, evidence-based approach to future state border closures, including what would trigger a closure – and an opening – and what a border bubble should look like.

It also asks the Federal Government to look at financial support for businesses affected by the closures.

“Communities along the Murray have been hit extremely hard by two border closures and in both instances it’s regional Australians who have paid the price,” Mr Quilty said.

“The NSW closure impacted Victorians, and now the Victorian closure is harming communities in NSW; in both closures, the state government shut the gates without giving a damn about the fallout.

“There has been no consistency to the closures, no consultation, and no sharing of information, which means the same problems are cropping up time and again.

“That is why I am happy to put my name to this letter to the Prime Minister, because somebody with a bit of political clout, such as Mr Morrison, needs to step in and speak up for border communities.

“I know full well that state premiers do not answer to the Prime Minister, but I am hopeful that when he speaks, they will at least listen.”

Mr Quilty has signed the letter alongside Victorian MPs Ali Cupper, Tania Maxwell and Fiona Patten, as well as NSW MPs Helen Dalton and Joe McGirr.

The joint letter – which is being cc’ed to Daniel Andrews and Gladys Berejiklian – requests National Cabinet develop guidelines on when a state border should be closed; an agreed definition of a “border bubble”; a list of agreed border closure exemptions; agreed timeframes for processing of border permits; federal resources to ensure border checkpoints and helplines are properly staffed; and a phone app that gives clear information on border closures.

The letter raises the possibility of federal support for border businesses, which have had to deal with almost 24 weeks of closures. The January 1 tightening of the Victorian border closure saw a mass exodus of Victorians from holiday destinations in NSW, leaving businesses staring at suddenly empty venues.

“Although I am a Victorian MP, damage to a border community does not discriminate and this is what Melbourne and Sydney governments totally fail to understand,” Mr Quilty said.

“I have been speaking up for border communities regardless of which side of the river they are on, because this state line can often be the source of many problems that both governments are happy to ignore.

“My proposal for a regional exit (Rexit) to create a new state combining Northern Victoria and Southern NSW would eliminate this problem because the Murray river would be entirely within the new state.

“The borders of our new state of Murray would not run through any population centres – despite the NSW and Victorian governments’ apparent inability to learn from past mistakes, there are plenty of lessons to be taken from these ridiculous border closures.”

For more information, contact Graham Springett | 0408 208819