Implement consistent border protections for Gippsland

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath is calling on the Andrews Government to implement consistent daily metropolitan border protections on Gippsland bound VLine services.

Ms Bath said sporadic public transport checking is not an effective border control measure.

“The Premier must dedicate additional resources to conduct checks on all major arterial VLine services into regional areas,” said Ms Bath,

“Daniel Andrews should be committing resources for the coordination of regular public transport border controls, rather than leaving under resourced local police to conduct a couple days blitz.

“For over six weeks VLine passengers have travelled relatively unchecked into Gippsland from when the regional travel ban was implemented in early July.”

Ms Bath said frustratingly Gippsland is regarded as an easy thoroughfare from metropolitan Melbourne via VLine rail or coach, however, while there are daily checkpoints on our highways, the same level of governance is not in place on our public transport system.

“Residents continue to be rightfully concerned about increasing infection rates and public transport remains worrisome for regular commuters,” said Ms Bath.

“The Premier’s so-called ring of steel around Melbourne is filled with loopholes.

“Daniel Andrews must commence consistent daily spot checks and random ‘ride-a-longs’ on all regional public transport services travelling out of Melbourne.”

Ms Bath said the Premier is responsible for implementing checking to limit unauthorised movement of people into Gippsland.

“Daniel Andrews must properly address the loophole by establishing a COVID safe VLine strategy to protect regional passengers, staff and ultimately our communities.”

Ms Bath called on the Premier to start being proactive rather than reactive with his approach to restrictions.

“Tougher scrutiny of the reason for all modes of travel into Gippsland, including checking the validity of work permits and inspecting paperwork to supporting the reason for travel is needed,” said Ms Bath.

“For many residents who need to undertake essential travel, VLine is their only transport option, their health and safety should be a priority and not neglected.

“Daniel Andrews must strengthen border controls into Gippsland to prevent the spread of coronavirus, more people out of work and more businesses closing.

“The hotel quarantine debacle has been a monumental failure of the Andrews Government and it is having a devastating impact on Gippsland’s economy.

“There is strong evidence that shows the virus is continuing to escape into the regions and it is clear we can’t afford any more of Labor’s failures in containing COVID-19,” said Ms Bath.