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Far West barrier proposal

Friday, 27th March, 2020

Tom Kennedy Tom Kennedy

By Emily McInerney

Councillor Tom Kennedy would like to see Broken Hill, Wilcannia and Menindee isolated from the rest of NSW to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

At Wednesday night’s Council meeting, Clr Kennedy put forward a last-minute motion to isolate the three towns.

He said he wanted the Silver City, and the communities reliant on it, to take effective isolation measures.

“That BHCC supports isolating the region under the same conditions that are currently in place in a number of states,” his motion said.

“This includes self-isolation for people entering the town, temperature testing at the airport and all access roads into Broken Hill including the Sydney road, before it reaches Wilcannia.”

Clr Kennedy said there were concerns about the impact further travellers would have on the indigenous community.

“We have a high Aboriginal population in Broken Hill, Wilcannia and Menindee that will be gravely-affected by an outbreak.

“The river communities will be particularly hard hit and this will quickly affect Broken Hill and the small number of ICU ventilators and the health staff we have as a community.

“Broken Hill has a considerably older population than the rest of NSW and this will also impact the number of critically ill patients that will need ICU care.”

Clr Kennedy would also like to see the Local Emergency Management Committee in consultation with the district committee and other key stakeholders to formulate a plan.

Mayor Darriea Turley said they wanted to investigate the issue further and thought an emergency meeting might be best.

She said there was a video link conference which would see stakeholders meet with the LEMC to discuss future action.

She said Council needed to consider how the Broken Hill community could travel outside many of the proposed barrier.

“Some of them go to work in different parts of NSW; if we cut ourselves off we have the issue of people being unable to access medical treatment.

“We also have the issue of doctors not being able to come into Broken Hill.”

She said the councillors wanted to have all the options in front of them.

“Council wanted the opportunity to be more informed, what is happening, what are the Government thinking?

“What is it that the local key stakeholders are already doing?

“We don’t want to be over-reactive. I know we are already talking to our Aboriginal community about risks in Wilcannia and I know Central Darling Shire is having that conversation.

“We’ve got to be very careful that the policy suits the need.

She said the best position was to have the social distancing.

“We have many of our children that go to university and TAFE in Adelaide, you can’t just put a circle around us.

“We have to look at this in a big picture.”

She said any decision that would be made would be from the State Government.

“We will probably see the emergence of social isolation for two or three weeks,” she said.

“The majority of Broken Hill are being respectful in practising that social distancing and isolation.”

Mayor Turley thanked the staff at Council for all their hard work so far.

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