Border entry handling bungled

The Victorian Ombudsman has announced an investigation will be launched into the Andrews Labor Government’s failed handling of border entry and the Victorian travel permit system.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said the indefinite locking out of Victorians from their own homes was one of the worst over-reaches he has seen from this State Government throughout the pandemic.

“While we need to stop incursions from NSW, a permanent ban on Victorians returning home is unsustainable,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I’ve had dozens of Gippslanders contact me who are stuck on the NSW border and unable to return home – many of whom are quickly running out of money for accommodation and food.

“Daniel Andrews’ draconian rules and total disregard for due process is callously separating families and effectively exiling Victorians.”

Announcing the investigation, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said reports the scheme was leaving Victorians facing “effective homelessness” must be put under the microscope.

Ms Glass added that the concerning case reports “raised concerns about the exercise of discretion under the relevant public health directions” and “potentially systemic issues about departmental decision-making”.

Mr O’Brien said while he welcomed the Ombudsman’s decision to investigate, it was crucial to ensure steps are taken right now to get Gippsland residents back in their homes as soon as possible.

“I have been calling on the Government for weeks now to establish a process to allow people to come home if they return a negative test, have had at least one vaccination and can self-isolate at home.

“The Government has belatedly opened a pilot program along these lines but with only 200 people to be allowed in and thousands still locked out, it’s not enough.

“The people stuck in NSW are people who took up the call to “holiday domestically” and get out and support our nation’s economic recovery and now they are locked out of their own homes.

“I’ve said all along throughout this pandemic that the Government’s response must be a balanced one – the announcement of this investigation by the Ombudsman is a clear indicator that the Andrews Labor Government continues to miss the mark.”


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