Following 73 days trapped in northern NSW after visiting a terminally ill friend, Ballarat resident Allan Meers is finally allowed to return home.
Allan’s story is a prime example of the cruel and heartless treatment of thousands of Victorians who became trapped in NSW after the Andrews Labor government suddenly shut the Victorian/NSW border on 9 July.
Once all of NSW was designated an ‘extreme risk zone,’ Victorians who had travelled across the border were being denied the right to apply for a travel permit and return home.
In what was a basic breach of human rights, some people were being forced into effective homelessness, others were being denied vital medical treatment. Some children, who’d travelled to NSW to attend boarding school or to see family, were forcibly separated from their parents.
Following my campaign to #BringVictoriansHome over many weeks which triggered a Victorian Ombudsman’s inquiry, Premier Daniel Andrews finally backed down, reclassifying non-locked down areas in extreme risk zones as ‘red zones’, meaning Victorians could apply for a travel permit and return to Victoria subject to returning a Covid negative test and quarantining at home.
This was further evidence that these harsh restrictions were never necessary on public health grounds.
Yet, Allan remained stranded for an extra week because Health Minister Martin Foley failed to ensure that Lismore in NSW was properly reclassified as a red zone. It was only after pleading with the minister in a newspaper article today that the classification bungle was fixed.
Now, after suffering so much anguish, Allan faces a bill of more than $1,000 to collect his car from Melbourne Airport. Why should Victorians, who have been denied their basic human rights, incur these sort of costs?
Whether it’s the world’s longest lockdown, the draconian curfew, the ban on playgrounds, the construction shutdown or these harsh border closures, Victorians deserve greater accountability and proportionality in the exercise of emergency powers by the Andrews Labor government.
30 September 2021