TIME TO SOFTEN LAWS: Southern Downs MP James Lister at a border crossing east of Stanthorpe.
TIME TO SOFTEN LAWS: Southern Downs MP James Lister at a border crossing east of Stanthorpe.

Pollies push for Southern Downs to be part of Outback plan

THE STATE Opposition is leading calls for the bush to return to normality sooner rather than later.

A loosening of COVID-19 restrictions will begin to take affect from tomorrow.

Up to 10 people will be permitted to dine in at cafes and restaurants and things like skate parks, libraries and playgrounds will reopen.

But those changes don’t go far enough according to Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington.

Ms Frecklington believes the Granite Belt and wider Darling Downs region should have restrictions softened even further to mirror those being introduced in ‘Outback’ areas.

“These regions are not covered in the Outback concessions and they are crying out for economic leadership,” Ms Frecklington said.

“There must be a commonsense approach to easing restrictions and saving jobs in regional economies.

“Most of this vast state has no active cases and there is an opportunity for regional economies to be fast-tracked out of lockdown.

“This health crisis must not be allowed to become an economic crisis, with jobs needlessly lost in regional communities.”

She has support from colleague James Lister, Member for Southern Downs, who says the Granite Belt is being ‘left behind’.

“Deb’s damn right,” Mr Lister said.

“From the very beginning our electorate has been unnecessarily disadvantaged by Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decisions.”

The Granite Belt has recorded no cases of COVID-19 and the Darling Downs region has not recorded a new case in almost five weeks.

“Whether it be her failure to open enough border crossing checkpoints and cutting our people off from ambulances, farmland and schools, her bizzarely heavy-handed closure of gun shops, the bush-only ban on fishing, or her prolonged closure of schools on the say so of unions rather than the health experts, we’ve done it tough.

“I have made strong representations to Premier Palaszczuk’s government on these matters both in parliament and in writing, but all I have received is a few dusty replies restating the same mistakes that I have raised.

“Our mum-and-dad small businesses, farmers and workers want to get things running again, but our Brisbane-focused government isn’t listening, and we’re being left behind,” Mr Lister said.

Premier Palaszczuk has maintained that her government would not act rashly in lifting restrictions.

“We have 2,000 people still in quarantine throughout Queensland. Which means they have the potential to have the virus and spread it,” she said.

“We need to be very vigilant and make sure we are getting to clamp down on it as much as possible.”

Stanthorpe Border Post

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