from Anne in Adelaide, South Australia: Confusion and the Border Wars

12  January, 2021

It has been going on for so long.

At first, in March 2020, all Australians took careful note of the dos and don’ts, the rules and regulations – as a nation. There was a unity between the states.

And then there wasn’t.

On April 3rd last year, Premier Mark McGowan closed the West Australian border to the eastern states for the first time in Australian history. And suddenly, Premiers found their higher calling. Each one could now command their state like a mini-nation and this would only increase their popularity. Just too tempting.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was not slow to realise this. Her Labor government faced an election in October. In August 2020, with the LNP, the Opposition party, gathering strength and with Victoria still in lockdown, the Queensland premier closed the border. Labor won the election with an increased majority. They are calling it the ‘border wars’.

Each state premier is mirroring Palaszczuk’s statement: ‘And today is the day that we say we are putting Queenslanders first.’

The thing is the borders of the mainland states are not sharply defined, particularly between Victoria, NSW and Queensland and to a lesser extent, South Australia. The border towns are now beset with problems of access to services: to schools and hospitals. Farms extend across borders.

At no stage have the number of infected people reached the percentages of Europe or the USA but we all realise that the virus is so infectious that it does not take much relaxation in the rules for it to become uncontrollable.

So now we have 7 sets of rules and specific use of language from the 7 states and territories to be considered. And more specifically: your own state’s rules, which change regularly with the ebb and flow of outbreaks, and the rules for states where you plan to travel or where your family are.

It’s plain confusing.

South Australia: as of January 12, all travellers coming to South Australia are required to complete a Cross Border Travel Registration. Our authorities have declared areas to be ‘High’ and ‘Low Community Transmission Zones’. Rules apply to each of these if you desire to enter South Australia. There are special rules for border areas – a ‘Cross Border Community Travel Zone’. Applications are required.

Rules are changed so often and are so confusing that often the police and border officials get it wrong. And this is quite apart from mask-wearing rules.

Other government COVID-19 website travel information

Victoria has just come up with a brilliant new idea: coloured zones! They have green, orange and red zones. Like a traffic light. Which means everyone entering Victoria must apply for a permit – even from WA or South Australia. We have had no community spread cases since mid-November last year.

‘These are the rules as per the Victorian government. If you have been in:

  • a green zone, you will be able to apply for a permit and enter Victoria. Once in Victoria you should watch for symptoms and get tested should you feel unwell. ​
  • an orange zone, you will be able to apply for a permit and will have to take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test within 3 days of your arrival in Victoria and isolate until you receive a negative test result.
  • a red zone, you will only be able to apply for a permit as a permitted worker, or to transit through Victoria to another state or territory. You may also apply for an exemption. Exemptions are only granted in special cases. If you try to enter Victoria by road without a valid permit, exemption or exception you will be turned away. If you attempt to enter via an airport or seaport without a valid permit, exemption or exception you will be fined $4957. Victorians will be required to quarantine at home, and others will be sent back.
  • a NSW-Victorian cross-border community. If you are a resident, you will be able to enter Victoria without a permit, but you must carry photo ID and proof of your address. ​’

The Australian newspaper makes the comment today: ‘The extreme approaches of Victoria and WA are out of all proportion with Australia’s COVID-19 caseload. The nation had four new cases of community transmission on Monday, all of them in NSW. Nobody is in intensive care. The maze of confusing, costly, job-destroying over-regulation by some states is now intolerable…. But … the commonwealth (government) lacks the constitutional power to force states to open borders or abandon their ludicrous red tape.’

We were hoping to holiday on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria at the end of February. It’s not looking very promising. Point one: can we get through the border? Point two. When we are there, will South Australian stop us coming back home or make us go into quarantine?

To travel or not to travel, the decision awaits us.

from Anne in Adelaide, Australia: more about the Sewing life …

Quilt making

August 6. Further to the sewing life: since my blog about sewing, I came across a ‘good news’ story.

Patricia, my cousin in northern-NSW, Australia, responded to tell me about creating quilts. Various community sewing groups with this specialised skill make quilts for hospitals as well as home-made face masks. They create a range of quilts and kids who are in hospital can choose one to keep. My cousin says it is so much more homely to have a bright quilt covering your bed rather than hospital blankets. They also make smaller quilts for newborns that did not survive. The parents can use the quilt to wrap their tiny baby.

a kid’s quilt

This little story is but a reminder of the thousands of people in small communities doing selfless things for others during these challenging times.

from Megan in Brisbane, Australia: no man is an island

May 20.


‘NO MAN IS AN ISLAND’
John Donne – Meditations 17

Good news for Queenslanders – Restrictions have been eased, and what is allowed is clearly depicted in the visual above.
After carefully studying this roadmap, I set out with a neighbor and my dog Holly for a walk along the creek near our respective houses. The path winds through trees and bushland, with the sound of the water running over the rocks as a soothing background. There are about four children’s parks on the route, outdoor gyms, and an off leash area for dogs. Very well designed public space, catering for the needs of the community.

It’s the first time I’ve been for a walk along this path in two months, and I was quite overwhelmed by the experience. ‘Every man and his dog’ has now taken on its literal meaning. I couldn’t move for the number of people on the path and was amazed at the size and number of the dogs out walking. Great lumbering animals thundered down the path toward Holly and me, dragging their bedraggled owners, who were trying to appear in control,  behind them, and my neighbour was lost somewhere in the crowd.

So much for 1.5 m distancing. It was every man (and dog) for himself. Dogs were bounding along, desperate to greet other dogs, people were trying to extricate themselves from the mess of harnesses and leashes and pretending that theirs were not the dogs snapping and growling or doing their ablutions on the path, causing holdups for the rest of us; theirs were not the dogs sniffing these ablutions and causing more holdups, traffic jams and even  “bumper bashing”.

Despite this chaos, the general spirit was much better than any I had experienced before. People were more willing to engage, to exchange friendly words, to have brief conversations. Isolation is not normal for social creatures and the people out walking that day served as a reminder of our need to engage with others, that no man is an island, and that 1.5m distancing does not come naturally.