PM to drive border fix at NSW bush summit

The impact of coronavirus border closures on regional Australians is expected to be Scott Morrison’s key focus at a bush summit in southern NSW.

The prime minister has hinted at an announcement at Friday’s event, which will bring together politicians, rural leaders and farmers in Cooma.

Mr Morrison said people should know when border restrictions can be lifted so they can get on with their lives.

“It is important that we continue to remove barriers where they’re not necessary and where there are barriers, we have the most sensible, practical and time-limited arrangements,” he told reporters in Canberra.

The prime minister is pushing for a streamlined approach to appeals against state border closures during the pandemic.

He has been a frequent critic of states which have shut their borders without releasing the medical advice informing their decisions.

From Friday, people living or working 40km each side of the South Australia-Victoria border will have restrictions relaxed but remain subject to virus tests.

Farmers and border communities continue to raise concerns with restrictions shutting Victoria off from NSW and SA.

NSW has agreed to make the border zone 50km with an agricultural exemption of 100km.

But red tape continues to frustrate farmers and agricultural businesses trying to move animals and machinery.

“I will continue to work to ensure we have a transparent and fair process, that there are appropriate appeal rights in place for people who are affected by these decisions,” Mr Morrison said.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will also attend the Cooma summit, along with Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon.

Mr Fitzgibbon will be on a panel with Energy Minister Angus Taylor and billionaire renewable energy advocate Mike Cannon-Brookes.

Swathes of regional Australia have endured a torrid period with the coronavirus recession coming after fire, flood and drought battered parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the national virus death toll rose to 584 on Friday with another 12 victims in Victoria.

While deaths are rising, new case numbers are falling with Melbourne in harsh lockdown and restrictions in country areas.

Victoria recorded 113 cases for the second day in a row, the lowest number since July 5.

Mr Morrison is continuing to dig in behind his beleaguered aged care minister while defending issues in the federally regulated aged care system.

The government has made qualified apologies about issues in the sector while also pointing to problems in Victoria’s coronavirus protection regime and health response.

The prime minister has also downplayed reports of a plan to evacuate stranded Australians from overseas and place them in outback quarantine centres.

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