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Monday, July 6, 2020

New South Wales, Victoria border closure set to devastate towns with no active COVID-19 cases

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The first border closure between New South Wales and Victoria in more than 100 years is set to devastate regional areas that have no active cases of coronavirus

Bushfire-devastated towns on either side of the Murray River face losing a significant number of visitors as Victorians are banned from crossing the border without a permit.

Regional areas on both sides of the state border have zero active COVID-19 cases despite an outbreak in Melbourne, official data shows. 

Eden, on the NSW South Coast, and Mallacoota in Victoria’s Gippsland region, were mass evacuated during the New Year, three weeks before Australia’s first coronavirus case was confirmed.

The first border closure between New South Wales and Victoria in more than 100 years is set to devastate regional areas that have no active cases of coronavirus. Pictured are kangaroos outside the Broken Oar takeaway food and general store at Pambula on the NSW south coast

The first border closure between New South Wales and Victoria in more than 100 years is set to devastate regional areas that have no active cases of coronavirus. Pictured are kangaroos outside the Broken Oar takeaway food and general store at Pambula on the NSW south coast

These bushfire-hit towns then lost potential visitors during Easter as Australians were put into lockdown and banned from travelling long distances.

Tourism-dependent regional areas are facing another economic hit on the second day of the July school holidays, with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirming NSW would close its southern border at 11.59pm on Tuesday.

Bega Valley Shire mayor Sharon Tapscott said the border closure could cause many struggling tourism businesses to close on the NSW far south coast.

‘I have no doubt we will see businesses that will not reopen,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

‘It’s an accumulative effect that just makes the downward spiral harder to get out of.

‘It’s very difficult for us down here. Devastating.’ 

Towns like Eden are particularly reliant on visitors from Melbourne during the July school holidays.

Eden (pictured), on the NSW South Coast, and Mallacoota in Victoria's Gippsland region, were mass evacuated during the New Year, three weeks before Australia's first coronavirus case was confirmed. Bega Valley Shire mayor Sharon Tapscott said the border closure could cause many struggling tourism businesses to close

Eden (pictured), on the NSW South Coast, and Mallacoota in Victoria’s Gippsland region, were mass evacuated during the New Year, three weeks before Australia’s first coronavirus case was confirmed. Bega Valley Shire mayor Sharon Tapscott said the border closure could cause many struggling tourism businesses to close

‘They come from Melbourne, they come straight up the Princes Highway,’ Ms Tapscott said. 

‘We don’t need to lose tourism. On the other hand, we don’t need to lose our no active COVID-19 status either.’

Large regional centres in southern NSW like Wagga Wagga receive visitors from Victoria.

Victorians who live at Wodonga, on the state border, will need permits to cross the Murray River into the neighbouring city of Albury in NSW. 

Complicating matters is the matter Albury and Wodonga share the same health system with Albury-Wodonga Health operating hospitals on both sides of the border.

NSW hasn’t banned Victorians since 1919 at the height of the Spanish flu. 

Victorians who live at Wodonga, on the state border, will need permits to cross the Murray River into the neighbouring city of Albury (pictured in May 2020). Both towns share the same health system

Victorians who live at Wodonga, on the state border, will need permits to cross the Murray River into the neighbouring city of Albury (pictured in May 2020). Both towns share the same health system

Victorian Liberal frontbencher Tim Smith, who coined the term ‘Chairman Dan’ to mock his state’s Labor Premier, said the border closure would devastate regional areas. 

‘Don’t punish our rural communities because of Daniel Andrews’ incompetence in Melbourne,’ he told Sydney radio broadcaster Ben Fordham on Monday. 

CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 8,449

New South Wales: 3,240

Victoria: 2,660

Queensland: 1,067

Western Australia: 618

South Australia: 443

Tasmania: 228

Australian Capital Territory: 108

Northern Territory: 30

TOTAL CASES: 8,394 

DEATHS: 106

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‘It would be a real shame if it was closed. It would absolutely gut regional communities on either side of the Murray River.’

NSW last week banned Victorians from 36 Melbourne suburbs in lockdown and introduced $11,000 fines if they tried to enter the state.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced NSW would ban Victorians from crossing the border.

Residents in border towns like Wodonga will need to apply for permits to visit neighbouring Albury, with Ms Berejiklian expecting Service NSW to take two to three days to process those applications. 

Victorians on the border needing to visit medical specialists will need special permits to cross the state border. 

Southern NSW, from far west to the the Murrumbidgee and the South Coast have no active case of COVID-19, Department of Health data shows.

Likewise regional Victorian, with zero active cases in Wodonga,  East Gippsland, Wangaratta and the Alpine area in the state’s east and none at West Wimmera further west. 

Nonetheless, Victoria recorded more than 127 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, a new record since the declaration of a COVID-19 pandemic.

The daily case count exceeded the state’s previous record of 111 on March 28. 

Victoria has recorded more than 60 new cases of coronavirus a day since Monday last week.

Some 12 Victorian postcode areas have been put into stage three lockdown until at least July 29 in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

More than 3,000 tenants in nine housing commission tower blocks have been put under ‘hard lockdown,’meaning they cannot leave their homes.

Regional areas on both sides of the state border have zero active COVID-19 cases despite an outbreak in Melbourne, official data shows. That includes the far south coast of NSW (Eden pictured)

Regional areas on both sides of the state border have zero active COVID-19 cases despite an outbreak in Melbourne, official data shows. That includes the far south coast of NSW (Eden pictured)

How Victoria’s second wave threatens to stall Australia’s economic recovery  

The new Deloitte Access Economics Business Outlook released on Monday predicted Australia’s economic growth will shrink by 3 percent this year due to the coronavirus pandemic – with Victoria’s second wave having a potentially devastating affect on the nation’s recovery. 

The Fast Crisis, Slow Recovery report said Victoria would likely be hardest hit, losing up to a quarter of its GDP after the new coronavirus outbreak forced mass lockdowns.

Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson, an economist, said Victoria’s dependence on mass migration and foreign students had left its economy exposed and vulnerable. 

‘Population, once a key growth engine, has well and truly stalled.’

The Deloitte report said downturns in migration, international border closures and unemployment would hamper Australia’s economic recovery.

Construction, tourism, professional services and aviation would be hard hit, Deloitte said.

The report said there would be 55,000 net migrant arrivals in 2020-21, 150,000 in 2021-22 and 235,000 in 2022-23. 

Economist Leith Van Onselen, who has worked for both Treasury and Goldman Sachs, has written extensively about Australia’s over-reliance on mass migration as an artificial driver of the economy, calling it a ‘ponzi scheme’.

The Government should instead take advantage of the forced break imposed by the coronavirus to restructure the economy.

He said governments should take advantage of current low borrowing rates to build infrastructure, creating much-needed jobs for citizens.

‘Not only would this help overcome Australia’s massive infrastructure deficit brought about by 15 years of mass immigration, but would also help stimulate the economy during a period of weak private demand and high unemployment,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

Mr Van Onselen said the nation-building benefits would be undone if the government reverted back to mass migration.

This view has been echoed by Digital Finance Analytics economist Martin North who warned the construction sector had been lobbying for massive migration levels to artificially prop up demand, despite the pandemic.

Businessman Dick Smith and economist Judith Sloan have also written about Australia’s over-reliance on mass migration, with Ms Sloan warning about the University sector’s dependence on foreign students, most of whom are seeking permanent residency.

Deloitte’s Chris Richardson said the federal government would need more packages similar to its infrastructure stimulus package, and construction industry booster to ensure that too much support did not end at the same time as the Jobkeeper subsidy. 

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