Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said the time had well and truly come for the NSW borders with Victoria to be opened.
Mr Walsh said with regional Victoria COVID free for the past fortnight and with hardly any cases in recent months; the border closures had served their purpose.
He said with Melbourne’s restrictions easing – and the city and whole state – reporting fewer daily cases than NSW there is no reason to continue the blockades.
“The river communities have done the hard yards; but the massive queues and delays must stop,” Mr Walsh said.
“I urge Premier Berejiklian to immediately review the border situation and send her police and the Australian army home,” he said.
“We simply cannot justify the congestion, the frustration and the impact in twin town communities being cut in two.
“From Mildura upstream life is getting back to normal except for the border closures.
“Ms Berejiklian, let’s get rid of the stop/go borders and let all those communities get on with their lives.”
Mr Walsh said the Victorian Liberal Nationals today announced a Road Trip for Victoria plan to boost Victorian-based tourism. He said under the plan, the Victorian Government would offer Victorians a 50 per cent discount up to $200 on tours or accommodation when booking three nights or more, to stimulate Victorian tourism and the jobs it generates.
“The Liberal Nationals plan to get tourism back to work also calls on the Victorian Government to establish a dedicated $300 million Victorian Tourism Fund to support tourism operators to recover and promote local tourism as well as $400 million to develop and upgrade tourist attractions across Victoria in 2021,” Mr Walsh added.
“This could fast track community supported private investment in important tourism infrastructure to ensure we are the best tourist destination in Australia.”
Echuca-Moama Tourism chief executive Kathryn Mackenzie has described the ongoing blockades as “devastating”.
In March tourism across the twin towns was injecting more than $1 million a day into the local economy but that has collapsed to just 20 per cent of that revenue in the latest figures.
“This should be our bumper period; when we have every room, caravan park and camping ground filled to capacity,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“Basically, from the grand final through to Melbourne Cup. Instead, especially on the NSW side of the river, bookings are running at about 5 per cent of that figure,” she added.
Mr Walsh said Ms Berejiklian has hounded Queensland to open its borders with NSW but shown no inclination to have the same policy with its southern borders.
He said that was hardly encouraging, to demand one thing from another state and then not offer the same respect to Victoria.
“Business leaders have been telling me this ongoing blockade hurts Echuca-Moama as one community, which is what it is regardless of what citycentric governments think,” Mr Walsh said.
“Now people in Victoria are free to move around they come to the twin town communities along the river because of what both have to offer – not just Victoria.”