A farmer was left ‘dumbfounded’ over the bizarre answer he got from the COVID hotline when he asked how he should move his hay from Victoria to his farm across the border in NSW.
On Monday, Chris Taylor shared a video to Facebook which has since gone viral, where he explains the tough predicament the Victorian-NSW border closure has put him in.
He said for two weeks he had been trying to get across the border to his farm in Euston, just over the NSW border, where he has 1000 acres of crop and 1500 sheep.
According to his Facebook profile, Mr Taylor is from Warracknabeal, Victoria, which is around 240km away from Euston.
“Obviously we’re in a process, due to the lack of rain prior, of feeding the sheep and I needed to get 43 tonnes of hay up there,” he explained.
“I rang a department in Sydney to say that I needed to get 43 tonne across the border, I was a farmer and it was considered a critical service. However, the rules have changed and farmers are no longer allowed to cross the border.”
“The department in Sydney then informed me I needed to take the 43 tonne of hay to Melbourne, fly it to Sydney and then sit in Sydney for 14 days and then transport it to Euston to feed my sheep.”
Mr Taylor was clearly unimpressed with the idea of taking hay on a “joy flight” to Sydney - just to drive all the way to Euston - after sitting in quarantine for 14 days due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Taylor candidly recorded the video and it has now amassed over 290,000 views on Facebook.
“To receive that sort of answer obviously I was dumbfounded,” he told Seven News.
Fortunately, on Tuesday, NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall announced exemptions for farm workers to cross the border to work on NSW farms, even if they don't live in the border bubble.
Mr Marshall said the changes were a "sensible solution" to the issues caused by the border closure and ensured the NSW agriculture sector had the workforce it needed.
"While this will be very welcome news, it does not solve all the problems and in my view, is just the first step towards allowing the critical agriculture sector on both sides of border to operate freely, as it needs to," he said.
Workers will have access to the Highly Specialised Critical Services (Agriculture) Permit if they are a highly specialised critical agricultural service and are moving and working anywhere within 100 kilometres of the NSW/Victorian border on the NSW side.
Workers who access the permit will also have to comply with strict conditions if staying overnight and adhere to other safety requirements, including self-isolating when not delivering the critical service.
In another video, Mr Taylor explained he did not intend his post to go as viral as it did and acknowledged the exemptions while saying he was “one of the lucky ones” due to his NSW property being just 25km over the border.
He also said many people who did not meet the 100km requirement had reached out to him.
“I feel for them, I feel for their families, I feel for their income,” he said, calling for common sense to be used to help farming communities.
He added his rant goes beyond just him, but all others who are in his position and those with properties in South Australia.
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