Victorian border community residents hail SA border ‘win’, but it’s too little, too late for some
Residents of Victorian towns close to the South Australian border have expressed relief after the SA Government relaxed travel restrictions — but some say the devastating impact on their lives will continue.
Less than a week after barring anyone from Victoria who is not an essential traveller, the SA Government yesterday reversed the decision, reinstating a “buffer zone” of less-restricted travel within 40 kilometres either side of the border.
The short-lived policy had prompted a backlash, with and access to non-urgent medical treatment.
Victorian border town community residents described the reversal as a “win”, but said the remaining policies were still having an impact.
A ‘win for common sense’
Paula Gust, who lives on a farm near Apsley in Victoria, said yesterday’s announcement was “fantastic news”.
“We are absolutely thrilled … finally some common sense has prevailed,” she said.
“We still have a long way to go, this isn’t the end, we are going to be there to assist the community members that need medication exemptions.
“We are not going anywhere, we are in it for the long haul and are totally committed.”
Carolyn Middleton, a lamb business owner and president of the Edenhope-Apsley Football-Netball Club, agreed that loosening the restrictions was “common sense”.
She said it had affected her business and would have had financial implications if it had continued.
“We are lamb producers and we sell our products through the Naracoorte Saleyards … we haven’t been able to travel across the border for business,” she said.
“It’s been very restrictive.
“It’s just getting into our busy season, so if it had continued, yes it would have been quite significant in changing the direction of where we do business.”
‘Treat us with a bit of humanity’
Paula McKee is co-owner and manager of the Friendly Grocer and Australia Post office in Murrayville, about 20km east of the SA border.
She said that although her business had not been badly affected by border restrictions, her family life had.
Her father is staying at an aged care facility in Lameroo, about 50km from the border — just outside the 40 kilometre “buffer zone”.
“I’m unable to visit my father, who is in aged care at Lameroo … he’s not in the state of mind to understand what’s going on,” she said.
“For the sake of a couple of kilometres that put him off limits for us.
“He keeps wondering why nobody’s visiting him. He thinks he’s been abandoned down there, which is far from the truth.
“It’s been very difficult.”
She said many people in Murrayville had been prevented from going to their jobs under the current restrictions, which have had a big impact on people’s emotions.
“People are just feeling like we’re been treated [as] second rate citizens,” she said.
“Medical appointments [are] a big problem … even if you do get approval to go to some sort of appointment, you’re treated like lepers.
“Nobody seems to want to know a Victorian.”
She urged the SA Government to expand the buffer zone.
“We still can’t do vet appointments, or dentists or chiropractors … we’re still pretty much locked out, to quite a degree,” she said.
“We totally understand he needs to protect his state but just treat us with a little bit of respect.
“Just treat us with a bit of humanity and respect.”
Communities in ‘a state of helplessness’
David Quinn moved to Murrayville when he bought the Cobb & Co Cafe about a decade ago.
He said the first coronavirus restrictions, announced earlier this year, cut the cafe from the vast majority of its customers, and the reinstatement of the 40km buffer zone would not get them back.
“Eighty per cent of our trade was up and down that highway — that’s gone,” he said.
“There are some big-time farmers who say they’ve shut their doors … they’ve farmed here all their lives.
“Everybody’s in a state of helplessness. There is lots of anger around.”
He said he felt treated as if he were not an Australian citizen.
Mr Quinn said the cafe was “hanging in there”, but the Victorian Government’s announcement that it was seeking to extend the state of emergency for another year made him pessimistic.
“That would finish a lot of [businesses] off,” he said.
“We’d be thinking about shutting everything down.”