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Labor, where is your heart?

After 34 days stranded in two caravan parks in Albury, Denis and Katrina Leahy of Geelong, along with their dying dog Angus, have finally been allowed to come home.

It is completely unacceptable that the Victorian Government refused to issue the Leahys with a border crossing permit for more than a month.

There is no rhyme or reason why the Leahys were forced to wait so many weeks to cross the border and return home.

When Victorians are COVID negative and can travel straight to their home and quarantine for 14 days, there is no public health rationale which justifies the Victorian Government’s shocking decision to lock people out of their homes. Mr and Mrs Leahy were forced to each make 5 applications; on the last occasion they were required to attach 17 documents to each application. All up, they obtained 9 negative COVID tests each. The permit system is a complete mess.

I have been speaking out for many weeks about the reprehensible treatment of Victorians, trapped in NSW, since the Victorian Government declared NSW an extreme risk zone and closed the border on 11 July 2021.
After raising a number of terrible cases with the Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass in mid-August, I am delighted that she has announced an urgent investigation into “COVID-19 related interstate travel permits, exceptions and exemptions.”

The refusal by the Andrews Labor Government to allow Victorians to return to their homes is not just cruel and callous but a blatant breach of human rights.

Some people are being forced into effective homelessness, others are being denied access to critical medical treatment. Many people are suffering mental health harm as a result of being prohibited from returning home.

John and Lorraine Bradbury of Torquay remain stuck in NSW. John, who suffers a serious heart condition, has been told he needs to return home to seek proper medical care. One man from Colac in his eighties is suffering lymphoma and is traumatised that he may miss a critical medical appointment scheduled for early October.

This situation is utterly outrageous. Labor, where is your heart?

I again demand that the Premier allow Victorians to immediately return home.

17 September 2021

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