NSW Sporting clubs are being blocked from competing near the NSW border with Victoria, for fear that it might lead to more communities being excluded from the ‘border bubble.’
- Supporters of the Jerilderie Football and Netball Club say they are dissappointed a plan to allow them to play a Victorian team in Berrigan was blocked
- Jerilderie was last week excluded from ‘border bubble’ arrangements due to the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney
- The Berrigan Shire Mayor says there are real “fears” such sporting events could lead to the shire being excluded as well
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last week tightened the so-called bubble on the back of the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney and further hinted there could be more changes to come.
It was today announced that NSW residents in the border bubble would only be allowed to travel into Victoria for essential reasons.
One of the councils kicked out altogether was the Murrumbidgee Shire, which takes in Jerilderie, just 60 kilometres north of the border.
The Jerilderie Football and Netball club was set to play a Victorian team on the weekend and was working on a solution to allow the game to go ahead in Berrigan, on the NSW side of the ‘bubble’, but that plan was knocked back by Berrigan Shire Council.
“Other leagues have had clubs in the same situation, and those clubs and shires were prepared to work together to solve the problem.
“We just can’t understand why, when we can freely travel into the town of Berrigan, and Tungamah is quite free to come up to Berrigan, why Berrigan shire would not be amenable to having the game played there when their club is playing an away game.”
Berrigan Shire Mayor Matt Hannan defended the move, citing “strong language” from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews about more possible changes to the border bubble.
He said there was a real fear that hosting events with residents from outside the bubble boundaries would prompt stricter restrictions.
“The reasonable basis for this fear is if the Victorian Government sees any NSW [local government area] flaunting the laws that they may well shut the border entirely.”
Cr Hannan said that was something his community could not afford.
“Sixty per cent of business in the Berrigan Shire comes from outside of the Berrigan Shire.”
However, he does believe Jerilderie should be given an exemption by the Victorian government and said the council was actively “advocating” for that to happen.
A time to work together, not against each other
Murrumbidgee Shire Mayor Ruth McRae said it would have been a difficult decision for the Berrigan Shire Council, and that anger should not be directed at them.
“Rather than go at a council who stand their ground trying to keep their community safe, the smart thing to do would be to advocate within the halls of the people who get to make the decisions.”
She said they were working with Cross Border Commissioners to try to get some consensus and rationale around the rules.
“And try to patiently and collectively make the decision that would allow us to do what we would like to do and would normally do, and be mindful and respectful of each other’s decisions,” Cr McRae said.
“It’s really important that we as a region and as a nation try and work with each other or impose things that make life incredibly difficult as we try and get through to the other side.”