Ballina MP Tamara Smith
Ballina MP Tamara Smith

How Northern Rivers leaders are advocating on border issue

NORTHERN Rivers stakeholders and the NSW Cross Border Commissioner will meet weekly virtually to discuss the effects of the Queensland border lockdown.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith said this week's inaugural meeting with members of parliament and councillors from the seat of Barwin to the coast would be the first of many to "get a full picture" of what is happening to the region in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and border lockdown.

"(This) gives community leaders a strong voice to continue to advocate on behalf of our communities," she said.

Ms Smith said her main priorities were ensuring there were doctors on all Westpac Helicopter Rescue Flights, which she claims was not the case across the weekend.

Ms Smith mentioned she was concerned about staffing issues for the region's emergency departments, medical centres and general practitioners.

However these issues should be fixed with the introduction of a new special medical staff border pass exemption.

She explained other issues weighing on the public's minds were custody arrangements, attending funerals and completing housing and infrastructure projects.

"For example in Ballina there are tens of thousands of dollars worth of homes being built with DJ Gardner homes who rely on supplies and tradesmen to cross the border, the same in Byron with the Bulter St bypass," she said.

Ms Smith said she was against Richmond MP Justine Elliot's suggestion to move the border checkpoint further south, labelling it a "waste of our police resources" for a Queensland initiative.

"I am disappointed in way the Queensland Government has done this and I am worried about our community," she said.