A major employer group has compared the Victoria-NSW border closure to the Berlin Wall and warned that the extreme measure will severely hamper Australia’s economic recovery.
The Victoria-NSW border will close at midnight on Tuesday night as health officials desperately try to stop the spread of coronavirus across state lines.
Permits will be issued to those who need to cross the border for work or health care.
Australian Industry Group leader Innes Willox said the closure would pull the rug out of under the economic recovery and spark chaos.
‘The border closure puts up a Berlin Wall between our two biggest states which represent over fifty percent our national economy, and cuts in two our country’s main economic artery,’ that he said on Monday.
The Australian Industry Group, which represents employers, has compared the Victoria and NSW border closure to the Berlin Wall (pictured, police patrol the border on Monday)
Two people tested positive to coronavirus at the New South Wales border town of Albury, NSW Health said on Monday (pictured, a sign in Albury noticed in May)
NSW police look on as passengers arrive from a Qantas flight that flew from Melbourne at Sydney Airport to be met by health officials on Monday (pictured)
‘It is really a sledgehammer approach when what’s required is concentrated strategy that’s community and hot-spot based and not predicated on arbitrary borders that split up communities.’
Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of the Business Council of Australia, said the country needs to learn to manage outbreaks.
‘This is definitely an extreme measure and hopefully a temporary one because the country can’t afford to continuously go in one extreme to the other,’ she told the Australian Financial Review.
‘The cost of a failure to manage the way to avoid it of this pandemic would be enormous and we now have to do everything inside our power to prevent a stop-start recovery that saps confidence and kills jobs for good.’
Passengers from Melbourne were met by health officials on landing at Sydney Airport on Monday who took temperatures (pictured)
Federal MPs and senators based near the border have also raised concerns, with Nationals accusing state governments of punishing regional communities over the Melbourne outbreak.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision was necessary but couldn’t say the length of time the border would remain closed for.
‘I hope it isn’t for too much time because it clearly has an economic impact and people’s jobs are at risk,’ that he told 2GB radio on Monday.
‘But they truly are equally in danger if the outbreak goes further than it’s now.’
The economy has already been poorly hit by the pandemic, with Australia entering a recession and the unemployment rate jumping to 6.2 % – a figure only expected to increase.
Melbourne passengers coming to Sydney Airport on Monday were met by health officials who took their temperatures amid fears of an outbreak spreading across border lines (pictured)
Albury-Wodonga has Australia’s only cross-border health service, with cancer treatment and dialysis on the NSW side.
The maternity unit is at the Victorian campus.
Two people in Albury, on the NSW side of the border, have already tested positive.
Independent MP Helen Haines, who is situated in Wodonga, said locals needed certainty that health care and business wouldn’t be affected.
‘I don’t want to hear of one case where somebody on one side of the border will not to able to access critical medical care on the other as a result of health crisis,’ she said.
Victoria’s case numbers soared on Monday for the 20th straight day of double-digit (or more) gains. The outbreak state now has more than 97 per cent of Australia’s active cases
New South Wales health officials interview passengers as they arrive from a Qantas flight that flew from Melbourne at Sydney Airport on Monday (pictured)
Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie, whose office is in Wodonga, criticised the ‘one size fits all’ approach of shutting down the borders.
Mr Willox said freight should be waved through without the delay, warning traffic jams at borders could cause huge economic cost.
Victorian authorities recorded 127 new coronavirus cases on Monday, while two men died in the state to take the national toll to 106.
Business Council of Australia leader Jennifer Westacott said virus outbreaks needed to be managed to protect livelihoods.
‘This is an extreme measure and hopefully a temporary one because the country cannot afford to continuously go from one extreme to the other,’ she said.
Passengers arrive from the Qantas flight that flew from Melbourne at Sydney Airport to be met by health officials taking their temperature (pictured on Monday)
: Passengers arrive from a Qantas flight that flew from Melbourne at Sydney Airport to be met by health officials taking their temperature on Monday