Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud believes tomorrow’s National Cabinet meeting (Friday 21 August) has become a flashpoint for the future of Australia’s Federation.
“Unless Premiers commit to work with one another to find workable solutions to state border issues for regional Australians then they risk states becoming irrelevant to modern Australia.
“State Premiers must urgently consult with one another and regional communities and deliver practical resolutions as a priority, and not rely on city-centric policy formation forgetting a third of the country’s population and our agricultural production systems.
“While we support evidence-based restrictions to protect human health, ongoing border restrictions on large sections of Queensland New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia that have no COVID-19 cases are posing major challenges on agricultural supply chains, as well as on the health and welfare of residents,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Announcements made in recent days to fix cross-border issues have not been developed in proper partnership with regional communities or don’t seem to be genuine in rectifying the serious impacts on many families, communities, workers and industries.
“There is no point developing solutions and making announcements without consulting with locals first or having a robust process to make them work, otherwise it is an announcement for announcement’s sake. Regional Australians are smarter than that and are the ones that are left with unworkable solutions.
“What these city-centric decisions fail to acknowledge is that modern regional Australia has outgrown state lines, and that many regions share strong economic, social and community links across borders.
“The integrated and connected nature of many regional economies is also exposing the limitations of the states and these border closures are becoming a flashpoint for our Federation and the future role and relevance of the states in our nation.
“The inability or unwillingness of our Premiers to work with each other to find commonsense and practical solutions to restrictions that they have imposed is becoming a major test of their leadership.
“Premiers must remember that they are not just Premiers of capital cities. I urge each of them to visit their impacted border regions as soon as possible and thrash out workable solutions with local governments, people, businesses and organisations.
“The Prime Minister wrote to Premiers on 16 August putting them on notice that this matter would be raised at National Cabinet, and regional communities expect their leaders to set aside politics and parochialism and to help, not hinder, them at this critical time,” Mr Littleproud said.