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Thursday, 2 September 2021
Page: 56


Senator HENDERSON (Victoria) (13:54): [by video link] I rise to raise serious concerns about the Victorian government's decision to prohibit Victorians from returning home, under the guise of public health orders. For weeks now, hundreds of Victorians, perhaps even thousands, have been trapped interstate, declined a permit to travel over the border and back to their homes. Whether they have been interstate to visit family, take a holiday or even attend school, what sort of country are we living in that Victorians are denied the right to return home? They are prepared to follow all testing and home quarantining requirements.

Since raising the case of Denis and Katrina Leahy from Geelong, I've received many more complaints from Victorians trapped in caravan parks or other temporary accommodation—Victorians who have made multiple applications for permits which are continually denied. Denis and Katrina are fully vaccinated. They're stuck in Albury in a caravan park. Each has had five negative COVID tests and they have been refused a permit to drive straight to their home in Geelong where they would quarantine for 14 days, driving non-stop—no stops at all—and, of course, being a risk to absolutely no-one.

Grant and Diana Trewin, from Lara, have been stuck in Hastings Point in northern New South Wales for a month, and Diana is really suffering. Ian Symons, from the Yarra Valley, can't get home. I've also been contacted by Glen Rieschiek, of Bendigo, whose wife is stuck in Armidale in New South Wales. Glen writes that his wife's emotional state is worsening by the day and his local state Labor member, Jacinta Allan, refuses to assist.

Of course, it's just as bad for Victorian schoolchildren who attend boarding school interstate. One student from Yanko Agricultural High School has been told he won't get a second border crossing exemption, and so his schooling is now completely in jeopardy.

I say to Premier Daniel Andrews: this is not good enough. Please let Victorians come home.