Horticulture

Seeing double at the border

by
February 12, 2018

Opinion by Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Shadow Minister Peter Walsh.

When it comes to cross-border issues, our communities along Victoria’s state lines are seeing double.

Two states means two sets of rules and double the fees.

For businesses, like Echuca-based builders Bluebird Constructions, working over the border is a vital part of the success of their business. It has also proved costly and complicated.

With about 50 per cent of their work over the border, it means they must be registered in Victoria and NSW, pay for insurance in both states and stay up-to-date on the latest guidelines in each state.

The same goes for any sub-contractor employed on-site — even down to having the correct testing and tagging done on any electrical tools brought onto the work site.

This is just one story.

Look a little deeper and it’s clear the Murray River is more than just a line on a map for our border communities.

It means farmers must navigate two separate sets of rules to move agricultural equipment.

Emergency services struggle to share information, making it harder than it should be for them to help our family and friends in times of need.

Young drivers risk fines of up to $500 because of differences with P-plate licensing laws and passenger restrictions between Victoria and NSW.

Electricians, plumbers and other tradespeople must pay for two licences and comply with two different sets of rules to run their business.

And recreational fishers in Victoria need two licences to wet a line in the Murray River.

It’s yet more complicated for businesses like Devilee’s Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. With a base in Mildura, their work regularly takes them into NSW and South Australia.

Managing director Peter Devilee says registering the company and their tradespeople in three different states has its consequences.

They pay more for insurance, more for registration and licensing and have to work to three different sets of guidelines.

Cross-border issues add another set of rules, cost and more red tape to business and everyday life.

It’s clear something must be done to solve these problems, but in three years the Andrews Labor Government has only announced a business case to tell it whether or not the problems are real.

Unlike Daniel Andrews, the Liberal Nationals have listened to our border communities and we’ve made a solid commitment to establish a Cross Border Commissioner dedicated to finding and fixing the problems our border communities live with every day.

We believe this will be best done by basing the commissioner’s office in regional Victoria.

It’s time for action to resolve our cross border issues with NSW and South Australia, and the Liberal Nationals are committed to working with border communities to find and fix the problems.

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