Border checkpoints

Tuesday June 30, 2020

Question asked in Parliament

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:25): My question is to the Premier. Can the Premier please advise whether residents who live near the South Australian and Victorian border and who already have cross-border approval previously issued by police will be able to attend medical appointments and/or work in the next 72 hours if they have not received approval via the new online process? With your leave, sir, and that of the house, I will explain.

Leave granted.

Mr BELL: Ian lives at Lake Mundi, which is 10 kilometres just over on the Victorian side of the border. Last week, he took his wife to Adelaide for treatment for cancer. Tomorrow, his wife has a follow-up appointment in Mount Gambier. Today, when checking with police, he was told that his old form was null and void and he will need to fill in the online form, which will take up to 72 hours to approve.

The Hon. S.S. MARSHALL (Dunstan—Premier) (15:26): I thank the member for his question. We are moving to a new arrangement as of tomorrow. This has been something that we have highlighted now for more than a week. We are strengthening our border, particularly with Victoria. In fact, the police commissioner informed the Emergency Management Council earlier this week when we met that 260 officers are now on that border. It is a very important border for South Australia. So it changed arrangements as of tomorrow.

What was in place prior to tomorrow was the arrangement that many people who live either side of the border and would come over for a medical appointment, or in fact go to school or the pharmacy or shopping, would go through once, get an authorisation, they would be known to the police. That was a reasonably high occurrence since we closed the borders with Victoria going back to late March of this year.

Tomorrow, a new arrangement is in place and we are asking people to get a pre-approval, even if they are somebody who is living on that border. They will essentially get a token, which can be shown electronically at the border. We think this will speed up but will give us a much greater level of traceability. It will be an electronic system which allows us to ensure in very quick time exactly who is in South Australia and, if there are any outbreaks, how we can get in touch with them.

There could be some time for people to get used to this system. I am informed by the police commissioner that in fact people who arrive at the border, if they don't have the token, will be able to complete the application at the border. So we will be saying to people, if they are coming in, to allow more time, because I can imagine that in the first 24 or 36 hours of this new arrangement there could be some delays. We do this with regret, but we do it because it is an important protection for the people of South Australia.

While I am on my feet, I would like to also just inform the parliament that the Transition Committee met this morning and will meet again on Friday. The recommendation that came from this morning's meeting was that we will not be lifting all state borders on 20 July, as was previously anticipated and in fact messaged. Again, we will look at this issue on an ongoing basis.

It's likely that we will continue to see the easing of restrictions with jurisdictions where there is not an unacceptably high level of infection; in particular, we're looking very closely at the moment at the ACT and also New South Wales. We haven't seen a new infection in the ACT for an extended period of time. In fact, in New South Wales, although there were five new infections today, all of them came from people returning from overseas travel.

Just as we had three new infections that we reported yesterday, these were not locally acquired; these were Australian citizens returning from overseas. They are in quarantine, just like in New South Wales with their five today: they are in hotel quarantine. We are looking very carefully there. Unfortunately, the number of new infections in Victoria is completely different. In fact, yesterday, when there were 75 new infections, 74 of them were locally acquired and one was from a returning traveller from overseas.

I note that Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has requested that those flights coming back into Victoria for returning Australian citizens now be diverted to other cities. We will continue to provide resources and any help that Victoria requires during this difficult period.