Victorian Cross Border Commissioner Luke Wilson has acknowledged there's some confusion around permit and testing rules, for residents crossing to and from NSW.
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RULE CONFUSION: Victorian Cross Border Commissioner Luke Wilson says his office has raised issue of travel permits and testing with state authorities.

New South Wales is deemed an extreme risk zone under Victoria’s travel permit system.

Residents of the cross border community area are currently required to obtain a Cross Border Extreme Risk Zone permit to enter Victoria.

Residents are able to apply for a permit at the Service Victoria website and through its app.

As a Wodonga resident, Mr Wilson acknowledged it could be hard for people to keep up with the permit changes.

“You actually have to keep track of four sets of rules – you have to follow Victoria’s border rules, NSW border rules, Victoria’s intrastate rules and NSW intrastate rules,” he said.

“Each one of them can change, at any given moment – and they all have a slightly different language.

“A lot of work my office is doing is helping people in border areas understand how to read the rules.”

Mr Wilson said his office was trying to give people tips as to how they might best interpret the rules.

“Often the best way to do it go to the ‘frequently asked questions’ section of the Department of Health and Human Services website,” he said.

“The directions themselves are often written in typically legal language and they can be hard to follow.

“We are often suggesting new ‘FAQ’s’ to deal with new situations or scenarios that come up and DHHS has been pretty good at adding those.”

Mr Wilson said workers in agricultural industries, living in in the border bubble, may be better off getting the cross-border permit.

“If you live in one of the local government areas Victoria nominates (as part of the border bubble) in a sense it doesn’t matter what sort of industry you are in,” he said.

“If you have access to another permit, as the agriculture sector often does, people in ag industries will say should I chose an ag permit, or a border one?

“There is no easy answer to that.

“But, in general, if you can get a border one it’s usually the better option.”

He said that where there was choice, there was “always a bit of uncertainty’.

Testing regimes

Mr Wilson also acknowledged different coronavirus testing regimes, between states were causing concern.

A group of eight Victorian and South Australian state and federal MP’s has called on their respective governments for COVID-19 testing to be recognised on both sides of the border.

“If you are freight operator, and you operate regionally it can be quite challenging to find testing,” Mr Wilson said.

“Long haul operators have a fair chance of coming across testing facilities.”

Smaller operators were most likely to meet with problems in south and north-west of the state, and Gippsland.

“You could be a freight operator who runs around east Gippsland, into Bega, and you may never come further west than Orbost, in fact that might be an irregular trip for you,” he said.

“If your nearest testing facility is Bairnsdale, then it’s quite a journey to get to it.

“It’s pretty hard to put a requirement on someone, and not give them the means to comply with it.”

He said he had fed that information back to health authorities.

“We’re putting that information on the table, we are certainly putting that sort of information in.

“That’s the sort of query we have been hearing, if there is a convenient testing site nearby, in another state, why can’t we just use it?”

The state government has been contacted for comment.

Last month, 14 of our dairy farms in Maine, as well as dozens of dairy farms across northern New England, got an unexpected and disappointing notice from Danone of North America saying that they were discontinuing their contracts with our organic dairy farmers in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and elsewhere.

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