Federal Labor MPs Richard Marles and Libby Coker must stop turning their backs on their local constituents who are in a desperate plight to return home.

It is estimated that thousands of Victorians, who travelled to New South Wales to see family or to holiday, have been refused repeated applications for a permit to cross the border and return home.

This situation has become a national disgrace.

Residents living in the Corio and Corangamite electorates are facing dire hardship and mental health impacts as a result of not being able to return home.

This morning, I spoke with John Bradbury who lives in Torquay with this wife Lorraine. They are trapped in a caravan park near Grafton in NSW with four other Victorian couples who can’t get home.

Mr Bradbury suffers a serious heart condition and, several weeks ago, needed to be admitted to the emergency department of Grafton Hospital.

Yesterday, Mr Bradbury, through a friend, reached out to my office along with the offices of local Labor MPs, Libby Coker and Darren Cheeseman.  At the time of speaking with Mr Bradbury today, he had heard nothing from Ms Coker and Mr Cheeseman’s office provided a standard response advising he may wish to consider contacting Lifeline. This is an utter disgrace.

The Victorian Government knows that it is causing mental health harm by denying Victorians their right to come home and yet local MPs refuse to help these people.

For elected representatives to sit on their hands, and say nothing, is beyond a joke.  Stranded Victorians are in despair as they miss medical appointments, suffer poor mental health and incur mounting costs.

Where is the public health rationale in denying Victorians, who have been fully vaccinated and who are willing to get a COVID negative test and return home to quarantine, the right to travel across the border and return to their home?

I have written to the office of the Victorian Health Minister urging him to issue a permit to the Bradbury’s, Denis and Katrina Leahy of Highton, Allan Meers of Ballarat and all other Victorians trapped interstate.

The prohibition on Victorians returning home is draconian and disproportionate – this trampling of such basic human rights should not be permitted in our country.

John Bradbury has been told by his doctors he needs to return home urgently to ensure he receives proper medical care.  This treatment almost certainly constitutes a breach of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights.  Will it take another court challenge or more damning headlines to see some action from this state government?

Again I say to the Premier, enough is enough. Bring Victorians home.

13 September 2021