The Independent Victorian Ombudsman has condemned the Andrews Labor Government’s Coronavirus border crossing laws were “downright unjust, even inhumane”.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull said he had been contacted by many residents distressed at not being allowed to return home with illness, to attend funerals and others just to be with their partners and family.
Ombudsman Deborah Glass’s investigation found the rules put in place by the government were “some of the most questionable decisions I have seen in my over seven years as Ombudsman”.
“We said at the time these laws allowed to flexibility for compassion to be applied so the report comes as no surprise to me. Some of the decisions were just downright heartless and the disappointing thing is that when they were raised there was not flexibility.
“The Ombudsman’s report contains countless other stories of heartache, including people waiting weeks to find out the outcome of an exemption application to be with their terminally ill daughter; people forced to pay rent on properties in Victoria and New South Wales with no income; and a young woman undergoing breast cancer treatment whose mother was denied entry to Victoria to help care for her daughter and grandchildren.
“The report paints a damning and heartbreakingly accurate picture of what communities have suffered under Daniel Andrews’ cruel and oppressive border rules that he wouldn’t budge on,” said Mr Bull.
In her report, Ms. Glass stated that the border permit scheme “failed to comprehend the very real need for many people to come and go across the border for a whole range of reasons, even in the face of official warnings”.
She also noted that, “It appeared to us that the department put significant resources into keeping people out rather than helping them find safe ways to get home.”
Key facts and figures from the Victorian Ombudsman’s investigation into decision-making under the Victorian Border Crossing Permit Directions show:
- Department of Health staff were given as little as 30 seconds to categorise applications.
- Only 20 staff were working on the scheme in early July.
- Only eight per cent of more than 33,000 applications were granted between July 9 and September 14
- Only 877 of 2649 applications to attend a funeral were accepted.
- Only 895 of 10,812 applications on other health or compassionate grounds were accepted.