Living on the edge: Mayor anticipates border closure

Like a lot of people who live and work just south of the border, Mayor Peter Petty is waiting to see how the Queensland lockout will work.
Like a lot of people who live and work just south of the border, Mayor Peter Petty is waiting to see how the Queensland lockout will work.

While Tenterfield mayor Peter Petty isn't privy to any extra detail about the logistics of cross-border travel once the Queensland border closes at midnight on Wednesday, he said council printers were busy producing ID documents for its workers who need to pass through Queensland to undertake their duties.

Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has stated that exemptions to the border closures include freight, emergency vehicles and workers, those traveling to and from work, court orders including family court, compassionate grounds and medical treatment.

There is no word yet as to how these credentials will be vetted before entry, although Cr Petty's anticipating long queues.


The mayor is a resident of the Jennings portion of the Wallangarra/Jennings community that is split by the border. He is in the same boat as other Jennings residents who need to cross into Wallangarra for daily essentials, and are curious as to what the arrangements will be.

Given the odd shape of the shire's border as it ventures north to be due east of Warwick at its highest point, there are many remote thoroughfares from the shire into Queensland and he wonders how these will be monitored, along with the border crossing at Mingoola in the west of the shire.

He said he supports the moves toward isolation, however, especially given Saturday's scenes of packed Sydney beaches with no respect for social distancing.

"You've got to go hard early," he said.

Council itself -- having closed its library, pool and cinema even before such venues were directed to do so -- is embracing the social distancing guidelines as much as possible.

Cr Petty said council's year-old plans to enable staff in 14 of its departments to work from home if necessary (due to illness or other factors) have been enacted, and staff are rotating through at-home and necessary office roles with a two-day turnaround.

Outdoor staff travel in individual vehicles to their work location, and road projects and other council activities are progressing as normally as possible under the circumstances.

While the March council meeting scheduled for March 25 was cancelled, the Office of Local Government can now give the green light to teleconferenced meetings.

Cr Petty said he just couldn't risk going ahead with Wednesday's meeting, given that several councillors fall into the vulnerable category.

A teleconferenced meeting will now go ahead once the technical issues are sorted, possibly the first week of April.

Cr Petty like so many others is dismayed at how the shire is reeling from yet another natural disaster. The future looked so bright after surviving drought and bushfires and with a planned schedule of busy weekends of major events, now all cancelled, promising to draw money into the district.

"It couldn't be a worst thing," Cr Petty said, "but now we have to look after our elderly and need to support each other.

"It's a challenge, but we'll come through it."