Relief for Mungindi residents as Moree added to 'border zone' but "more needs to be done" to help boarding school students and medical patients

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

The Queensland border bubble has been extended to include Moree but "more needs to be done" according to local politicians.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who made the announcement on Friday morning, said this would aid boarding school families and those affected by the loss of Mungindi's supermarket.

Mungindi

Balonne Shire Mayor, Samantha O'Toole, said it meant residents in the border community of Mungindi would be able to access supplies in Moree without jeopardising their ability to access health services in Queensland.

It is believed the inclusion may come into effect as early as midnight tonight but this is yet to be confirmed.

Prior to the change in position, a Mungindi resident who went to Moree would have had to quarantine at home for 14 days before being allowed to visit the town's hospital, which is located in Queensland.

The Barwon River which splits the town is the border between Queensland and NSW.

The decision comes in the wake of a devastating $1 million fire overnight on Tuesday which wiped out the town's only supermarket as well as two other shops.

Initially the Queensland Government stood firm on its existing border arrangements before some intense lobbying from the Balonne and Moree Plains Shire Councils.

"I welcome the change of heart from the Queensland Government. This is a sensible decision and certainly the correct one given the unfortunate circumstances in Mungindi," Cr O'Toole said.

Northern Tablelands MP, Adam Marshall, said while it was positive news, it should not have taken a tragic situation for common sense to prevail.

"This should have always been the case from the very beginning but it is positive," he said.

"At least those people at Mungindi won't have to choose between coming to Moree to get food or attending medical services on the QLD side now; they'll be able to do both."

Mr Marshall said Mungindi was making headway with the implementation of a pop-up store and getting the three sites cleaned-up as quickly as possible.

"We've got all the experts on site now and that should all take place in the next couple of days," he said.

"The community out there has been absolutely amazing. There's 25-30 people right now out there helping move goods into the RSL club and clean it up to get it ready for the shop to be established. That community is just amazing."

A GoFundMe appeal has seen over $63,000 raised in just over a day.

"To say that our little community has been through hell and back is an understatement, Mungindi Progress Association president, Anna Harrison, said.

"We have been inundated with kind offers. We have an amazing town and we will not be beaten," she said.

Fifty home bundles arrived today in the community from Foodbank and will be distributed to people who might be elderly or might not be able to leave their homes to get access to Moree or somewhere to do their shopping.

"There's been no shortage of donations and goodwill and I know everyone is incredibly thankful and appreciative," Mr Marshall said.

"But I'm still plugging away alongside Katrina and other mayors to have the border bubble with Queensland either completely done away with or at least moved to make all the bordering Local Government areas with QLD included in the bubble because post codes are just the silliest way of determining a border bubble."

"While this is good news, it does not do everything and more still needs to be done."

Boarding school students

"All (Palaszczuk's) done is expand the bubble to include Moree but she hasn't expanded the bubble into QLD," Mr Marshall said. "So Toowoomba and Brisbane etc still aren't in the bubble so it doesn't help resolve that boarding school issue at all," he said.

"While this is welcome, and should have been in place from the very beginning, it doesn't go the whole way."

Southern Downs MP, James Lister, is concerned the Premier again made an important announcement without the formal directive being available.

"Without the details I can only take Ms Palaszczuk at her word that the decision "will aid boarding school families"," Mr Lister said.

"To me, this Twitter announcement means that boarding school families living within the border bubble may now travel to their boarding schools and back without having to quarantine. If not, this announcement changes very little for the majority boarding school families," he said.

"The use of Twitter for border restriction announcements before the details are promulgated is an entirely political tactic, and the lack of detail that comes with using Twitter has bitten the Premier before. What on earth is going on up there in Brisbane? It seems to me that election mode spin crafted to please city voters has now replaced responsible government. And as always, we're paying the price of it in the bush."

ACM has contacted the Premier's office for clarification.

Medical services

Moree Plains Shire Mayor, Katrina Humphries, said, the fight was far from over.

"We have to get those roads open for our people to seek their medical needs. We have a huge number of people that need medical assistance that have their practitioners and specialists in QLD and we need to get our people to be allowed to access their medical services, and we need to do it fairly quick.

"And in turn, we need to be able to get the medical practitioners that come down here and do clinics into the state as well. I was just talking to an eye specialist... 22 days ago they put in applications and they've heard nothing.

"So this isn't over. We still have a big fight on our hands!"