BORDER COMMISSIONER: What LNP’s new proposal means for you
A REINVIGORATED push for a Queensland cross-border commissioner has been spearheaded by Southern Downs producers and Member for Southern Downs James Lister.
The new election promise of the LNP is to create a department position in regional Queensland that would liaise with bordering states to create mutual recognition of issues such a registration, crime and most pertinently, border entry.
Continuing border crossing issues, such as the bubble, had brought the issue to the spotlight but it was one that farmers such as Kirra Pines’ Tim Carnell would continue to deal with long after a pandemic.
“There are things around weapons licensing, emergency services, road and transport and these are things we’re dealing with on a daily basis, so to have a more consolidated and a more concise approach with NSW would be practical approach,” he said.
Mr Carnell’s Glen Aplin tomato and capsicum farm was looking at struggles for up to 100 workers if border bubbles issues weren’t resolved soon.
“From March through to June, we as a business were in the middle of a harvest and we didn’t miss a beat, but now there’s a lot of anxiety in the community,” he said.
“Livelihoods are at stake and people want to know where we’re going.”
Likewise, Connie Taylor from Taylor’s Family Produce said the struggling farm had received no help on the back of the returning lockdown.
“It’s very hard — we have nowhere to go,” she said.
“Everywhere we go, doors seem to not be opening for us.”
For Mr Lister, his greatest worry was the economic fallout that could occur if border issues weren’t relieved before grain harvest.
“I’m very concerned that there’s going to be a bumper crop in Northern NSW and a good crop around Goondiwindi, and a lot of that goes to the Queensland side to silos be railed out to the Port of Brisbane for export,” he said.
“For example, Watco who will have a lot of business railing grain … they could be potentially disadvantaged if we can’t get that grain across.
“We have suffered through terrible drought, these communities need that break.”
A cross-border commissioner was an issue also advocated for by Southern Downs Regional Council and councillor Andrew Gale.
From his own experience as a police officer at Yelarbon to the connection between NSW and Southern Downs councils, Mr Gale said he knows just how much a cross-border commissioner would make life easier for border towns.
“We have understanding with Tenterfield where we provide waste services to the township of Jennings, and so on,” Cr Gale said.
“If you live at Legume, you’re most likely seeing a doctor, a chemist, here. If you look at the postcode 4377, it’s a Queensland postcode at The Summit, but 90 per cent of its physical mass is in NSW.
“These are the realities we have to exist within and a cross-border commissioner would make that so much more efficient.”