Tweed MP Geoff Provest addressing the 150 strong crowd at the Master Builders Association Cross Border conference at Tweed's Twin Towns earlier this month. Photo: Jessica Lamb
Tweed MP Geoff Provest addressing the 150 strong crowd at the Master Builders Association Cross Border conference at Tweed's Twin Towns earlier this month. Photo: Jessica Lamb

Construction industry’s plan to ‘sweeten’ the deal for Qld

NSW will offer to pay for Queensland COVID safety officers to do random audits of Northern NSW construction sites in an attempt to sweeten the deal for a construction border exemption declaration.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest confirmed the industry’s challenges was one of the main issues discussed at this week’s Border Recovery Committee meeting.

Made up of stakeholders from government departments as well as leaders from affected areas, the committee aims to liaise with the Queensland Government on issues caused by the border restrictions.

These include areas such as transport, building and construction, tourism, education, funerals, custody of children, justice and health.

Mr Provest said the Northern NSW and South East Queensland construction and building industry was putting together a COVID-safe plan to be checked by the NSW Chief Health Officer before being presented to the Queensland government.

<<READ MORE: JOBS ON THE LINE: ‘People can only hold on for so long’>>

The plan, along with an offer for NSW to fund the Sunshine State’s own safety officers to audit construction sites from the border down to Ballina, hopes to “sweeten the deal” and put Queensland’s mind at ease.

The ultimate aim is for the industry’s workers and those delivering supplies be given their own border pass and be eligible for an exemption from quarantine.

<<READ MORE: NSW Premier bursts Ballina’s hopes of being inside bubble>>

Currently, contractors are hamstrung by not being able to travel outside the border bubble without being forced to quarantine on returning to their businesses in Queensland.

More than 60 houses on the Northern Rivers remain without roofs, builders can’t access their Queensland-based suppliers, and more than $150 million worth of projects, from the border to Ballina, hang in the balance.

Mr Provest said officials were hoping to model a system for those who share custody of children outside the border bubble area on the success of the transport industry’s exemptions for those involved in specific road projects like the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade.

“Transport has managed to arrange special passes for road construction workers that allow them to pass through the border without quarantine if they can provide a letter from their employer and a letter from Transport NSW,” he said.

These passes came into play on September 4.

Mr Provest also foreshadowed a “streamlining” of medical passes to be announced in the coming weeks and a contingency plan for students completing the HSC were a COVID outbreak to occur in a school.



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