Thursday, April 25, 2024

Border council pleads for Victorian bubble inclusion

Edward River Council says its exclusion from the Victorian border bubble is having an impact on important revitalisation works at the Town Hall and Estates Building.

“Unfortunately some of our expert contractors are Victorian based and so far, have not been able to obtain the necessary permits to re-enter Victoria after working in Deniliquin,” ERC’s general manager, Phil Stone said.

“After the border bubble announcement last Wednesday, our immediate thoughts went to health and educational services, however after the dust settled we started to count the cost and extent of our exclusion from the bubble.

“Council is not the only business or organisation affected by this snap decision. We are receiving reports from many different sectors of specialist workers not being able to work here now.”

Mr Stone said some work for the civic precinct was continuing off-site including fabrication and glazing work, procurement of furnishing, carpets and other materials.

“Our painters are locally based and whilst they are able to continue with some work – they too will ultimately be delayed due to the necessary fit out of a lift being postponed until we can secure border permits – or be returned to the border bubble – whichever is sooner.”

He said Deniliquin’s proximity to the Victorian border and the fact that Edward River had not had a single case of COVID-19 since the pandemic began should be considered by the Victorian Government.

“We understand border closures are meant to be about minimising risk – but there is very little risk from Edward River. This decision, to exclude us from the border bubble is also affecting Victorians – including those employed by our Council who are now unable to work.”

Council currently contracts a number of Victorian suppliers including builders and other specialist tradespeople on a number of different projects.

“Whilst we always aim to engage locals from within the region, some work such as the civic precinct project requires specialists with experience in such old buildings.”

Mr Stone said delays to projects would be counted daily and with no clear timeline until the municipality is again included in the border bubble, delays and ultimately costs would continue to rise.

“Again we are asking the Victorian Government to listen to us – we may not be Victorians but we certainly feel like it most of the time. Our phone code starts with 03 for a start – let alone how many AFL greats we have produced!”

“Our residents rely on Victoria and Victorians. We don’t want to see this major project delayed because someone in Victoria drew a line on a map without realising we are not the risk,” Mr Stone said.

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