Australian Border Closures Impact on Health, Farming

August 13, 2020 Updated: August 13, 2020

The federal government is urging state premiers to address healthcare and food supply impacts from border closures.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says state border closures have had serious unintended consequences on agricultural supply chains and regional Australians’ wellbeing.

Among examples of those whose healthcare has been affected, he says cancer patients in Tenterfield are unable to access treatment in Queensland and a heavily pregnant woman in Moree has been declined a permit to visit Toowoomba to visit her obstetrician.

Agricultural impacts include a Victorian pastoralist being unable to get to Broken Hill to feed and water her 500 cattle, and the flow of silage contractors and grain harvesters being halted between Queensland and NSW.

“State health officials need to engage specifically with regional communities and industries at the direction of the premiers to identify workable solutions that keep supply chains open,”  Littleproud said in a statement on Aug 14.

“Keeping all of our agricultural supply chains secure is absolutely critical to ensuring supermarket prices for fresh products remains affordable for Australians, while maintaining some of the best animal welfare standards in the world.”

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham says travel restrictions should be proportionate to the risks of coronavirus across different states.

He’s urging Australians to travel if they can, to help the domestic tourism industry which has taken a $12 billion hit.

“That’s shocking news for so many small and medium businesses around Australia,” Senator Birmingham told the ABC.

“Get out there and pretend that you’re overseas and do the types of things you would do overseas whilst travelling around Australia.”

Senator Birmingham says he hasn’t given up hope on a travel bubble with New Zealand by the end of the year, but he understands both nations are focusing on outbreaks.

“I don’t think anybody should expect there will be a breakthrough in the next few weeks or couple of months,” he told Sky News.

“As we get closer to the Christmas period the calls for many people to be able to connect with family and loved ones will get greater.

“If it can be done with the concurrence of both countries we would love to see that breakthrough.”