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NSW Breaking News

‘Opening up’ regions must be done safely

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Federal Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payments

‘Opening up’ regions must be done safely

By Janelle Saffin MP
State Member for Lismore

LAST month, I joined forces with four other NSW MPs representing the Northern Rivers to ask the NSW Government to protect our region from a predicted big influx of Sydneysiders when the State capital reaches the Government’s 70-per cent double vaccination target before we can.
Coming together with one voice for the communities we represent, The Nationals’ Chris Gulaptis (Clarence), Geoff Provest (Tweed) and Ben Franklin MLC, together with myself and The Greens’ Tamara Smith (Ballina) wrote to Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy Premier John Barilaro about our concerns. Both Ms Berejiklian and Mr Barilaro have since resigned and are leaving politics.
We asked to adjust the roadmap to factor in regional and rural circumstances to prevent us being swamped by visitors prematurely, and in a win for us here, non-essential travel from Greater Sydney to the North Coast now will be restricted until a higher safety target of 80 per cent is reached.
It should be remembered that regional and rural New South Wales supported Sydney during its darkest hours this winter when the Government redirected some of our vaccine supply to metropolitan students sitting their HSC.
The vaccination rollout was prioritised to Sydney and from last week eligibility for all Covid-19 vaccines was opened up to all people over the age of 12. Vaccine availability is slowly improving here in our region, and not before time.
It is now our turn. We need more vaccines and more time. We have been left out of all considerations and should not have to fight so hard to get taken notice of. It took all MPs, even those in the Government, to come together to say ‘what about us here in regional and rural NSW?’ It is not all about Sydney.
I was part of a similar cross-party collaboration which secured a border zone between Northern New South Wales and South East Queensland, tested recently by some positive Covid-19 cases leaking into our region, and resultant snap lockdowns in Byron Shire and Tweed Shire LGAs (lifted at time of writing) and in Kyogle and Lismore City LGA, and the town of Casino (now in place until 11 October).
These lockdowns really hurt local businesses, families and local councils’ operations.
The filming of reality TV productions, with large casts and crews from Sydney, is inappropriate for our region at this time.
These production companies had a corporate social responsibility to Byron and Tweed shire residents to ensure that their employees adhered to permit restrictions under Covid-safe plans.
I also wrote to the Deputy Premier, in his then capacity as Minister for Regional NSW, requesting a detailed road map for opening up from Covid-19 restrictions that is more particularised to the circumstances and challenges being faced by local communities in regional areas.
The thinking behind having this road map is that hopefully it will provide much more clarity, and if implemented well, gradually replace the need to go in and out of lockdown.
However, we need to know that opening up will not mean open slather; putting our local government areas at any undue risk or disadvantage.
We need the NSW Government to be more transparent about how many residents of Greater Sydney are being issued with permits to travel to the North Coast, whether they are fully vaccinated and why they are coming.
How many others might have slipped through the net, exposing the regions to Covid outbreaks and clusters?
Subsequently, Mr Barilaro held several Zoom hook-ups with regional MPs and I believe he and other senior ministers were starting to listen to our concerns, which are shared by locally-based medical professionals and the broader community.
I pledged to work with the NSW Government to keep our communities safe and healthy, and for government financial support measures to reach struggling local businesses and individuals, particularly as the Federal Government soon will withdraw such support.

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Northern Rivers Local News

The Northern Rivers Times Newspaper Edition 202

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The Northern Rivers Times Newspaper Edition 202

The Northern Rivers Times Newspaper Edition 202


The Northern Rivers Times Hits the Stands!

We are thrilled to announce the release of our latest edition of The Northern Rivers Times! Grab your copy today for just $2 at leading newsagents, Woolworths stores, and service stations from Coffs Harbour to Coolangatta.
Featured Stories:
• North Coast Flood Plain Probe Cut Short
• Mayor and MP Continue Fight for Ferry
• Regional NSW’s Biggest Hospital Move Successfully Completed
• TAFE NSW Giving First Nations Job Seekers in Casino
• Federal Budget 2024/25: Implications for Ballina Shire
• Northern Rivers Koala Hospital Needs Funding
• Spider Woman’s Book Lifts Lid on Care Risks
• Scenic Rim Clydesdale Spectacular 2024
• New Marine Rescue Brunswick
• Alarming Surge in Homelessness
This special edition is packed with essential updates and engaging stories from the Northern Rivers region. With a variety of captivating articles, this edition offers a rich mosaic of news that keeps you connected to the vibrant life across our communities.
Don’t miss out—pick up your copy today and stay informed about everything happening in the Northern Rivers region!

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The Northern Rivers Times Newspaper Edition 199

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The Northern Rivers Times Newspaper Edition 199

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