'Our' community shouldn't be cut off from health care and groceries

The Goondiwindi community doesn't stop at the border.

It's a simple message but a vital one which has been sent to the Queensland Premier by the Goondiwindi Regional Council.

"What about our community members in NSW?" asks Acting Goondiwindi Regional Mayor, Cr Rob Mackenzie.

"What about our community members in NSW?" asks Acting Goondiwindi Regional Mayor, Cr Rob Mackenzie.

The GRC has urged the State Government to consider residents on the New South Wales side of the border who have been cut off from health care, groceries and other essential services by the "border bubble".

Acting GRC Mayor, Cr Rob Mackenzie has written to Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young to request the addition of the North Star, Croppa Creek and Yallaroi communities to the "border zone" that is permitted to cross the Queensland border.

"We are asking for recognition that the Goondiwindi region is a border community - and that community extends into northern NSW," Cr Mackenzie said.

"The hard border closure is excluding parts of our broader community from essential services and threatening the interstate connections that border communities are built upon. For many of these residents it can mean an extra 50km drive to access core services like healthcare, groceries and childcare that they would usually access in Goondiwindi."

While schoolchildren have been granted permission to cross the border to attend school, teachers have not been given an exemption and some schools have been left to operate without their teachers.

In his letter to Dr Young, Cr Mackenzie also highlighted the compounding effect of these restrictions on a region that has been drought-declared since 2014. He is advocating on behalf of landholders and rural service providers in the Goondiwindi region who are now unable to deliver services to their clients in the excluded NSW communities.

"We fully understand the need to keep people safe, however, we cannot have the situation we have now where some teachers cannot get to school to teach our children, and businesses already hit hard by six years of drought have now had their client base cut off.

"There has to be a more practical and common sense solution that respects the way border communities actually operate, whether it be extending the bubble to include whole Local Government Areas, adding more postcodes, or extending the exemption criteria for all genuine border residents" Cr Mackenzie said.

There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in the Goondiwindi region or in the wider community on either side of the border.

Cr Mackenzie has added his support to the Goondiwindi Chamber of Commerce's recent plea to the Queensland Premier to consider both the short and long-term impacts of the current zone to Queensland businesses, and has also expressed his sympathy to similarly-affected border communities such as Tulloona in NSW and Thallon in Queensland.