House debates

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Constituency Statements

COVID-19: State and Territory Border Closures

10:14 am

Photo of Anne WebsterAnne Webster (Mallee, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

This will be my fifth speech this fortnight on the excessive border closures that are devastating individuals, businesses and communities in the electorate of Mallee. I have heard many sad stories over the past few weeks, including from John Fader and Denise Knight, who have been denied access to medical treatment in South Australia. But there have also been some good outcomes.

On Wednesday afternoon I informed the house about David, a farmer from the Mallee. David required urgent surgery for a malignant brain tumour and had followed all requirements to travel via Melbourne to Sydney, but was stalled by a 14-day quarantine period. Meanwhile, his surgeon, Charlie Teo, said that the tumour was growing by the day and that 14 days may make it inoperable. David's wife, Michelle, contacted me in desperation, seeking help. I immediately contacted the Prime Minister to request his assistant. The Prime Minister then contact the New South Wales Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, to see what could be done. Today, I am happy to inform the house that David received an exemption from quarantine, and the operation was performed successfully yesterday. David is now recovering in intensive care. Michelle is so grateful. I'd like to thank the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, for their support.

While it is a great result, it really should not be this difficult. Families like David and Michelle should not need to enlist the support of the highest office in the country to access life-saving medical treatment. While this is one good story, there are still many people suffering due to these border closures. Take Angela from Mildura, for example. Her father passed away last week and sadly she was not able to get an end-of-life permit prior to him going. She is now desperate—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 10 : 16 to 10 : 34

Angela is now desperate to travel to Broken Hill to attend his funeral with her family and friends. She was first told that she would need to fly into Sydney from Melbourne and enter hotel quarantine instead of taking the three-hour drive across the border between two COVID-free areas. Angela has the capacity to self-isolate in Mildura and then drive directly there. The family is happy to delay the funeral by 14 days to give her that time to travel. I hope that common sense and compassion can prevail for Angela and her family.

While I welcome the reintroduction of border zones for the New South Wales borders, what we need are free borders. Until we have them, we will continue to hear cases of grief and hardship in every affected state.