Media Release

10 September 2020

Labor has stepped up its call for the Berejiklian Government to match its southern NSW $45 million COVID-19 grant program with a similar package for struggling communities in the State’s north.

Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin urged Deputy Premier John Barilaro more than a week ago to extend the program, which he announced on a flying visit to Albury, to northern businesses doing it tough.

Now she says the delay in implementing a package shows an “unresponsive” Berejiklian Government has little regard for northern border communities.

“These are NSW residents and the NSW Government is responsible for them and to them,” Ms Saffin said.

“Regardless of which government made the decision to close the Queensland-NSW border, the negative impacts on struggling local businesses on the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands are no different to those experienced by businesses near the NSW-Victorian border.”

Ms Saffin called for the program to cover all businesses located in the Local Government Areas within the bubble zone, including Tweed Shire, Kyogle and Tenterfield Shire. She said it should also be extended to other businesses in the Lismore City, Richmond Valley, Byron Shire, Ballina Shire and Clarence Valley Local Government Areas.

“The NSW Business Chamber, representing businesses across the Northern Rivers and New England North West, the Master Builders Association of NSW Northern Rivers and the Northern Rivers Joint Organisation all support what I am calling for,” Ms Saffin said.

Ms Saffin stressed that she was asking for extra targeted support for businesses over and above pre-existing support measures.

“This program would help with local businesses’ day-to-day costs, keep their doors open and keep people in their jobs,” she said.

Labor Shadow Minister for the North Coast Adam Searle said the delay demonstrated that the National Party had simply forgotten about struggling communities in the northern border region.

“While we welcome the $45 million package for the southern border region, and recognise the difficulties being faced by communities there on both sides of the border, John Barilaro and the Nationals need to explain why the same consideration has not been given to communities on the north coast” — Adam Searle, Labor Shadow Minister for the North Coast

“The north coast communities are clearly facing significant challenges and the NSW Government should be providing support and solutions,” Mr Searle said.

“When will the Deputy Premier answer calls from the community and provide this assistance to those on the northern border?”