Canberrans are coming home - Transcript, ABC Radio Sydney


SUBJECT: Stranded Canberrans returning home from the NSW/Victoria border. 

ROBBIE BUCK, HOST: It’s to do with those hundred or so Canberrans who was stuck at the Victorian border, and it appears after that conversation yesterday there's been some movement at the station. Dr Andrew Leigh is the federal Member for Fenner in the ACT. Morning, Andrew.


BUCK: Very well. Things moved quite quickly yesterday.

WENDY HARMER, HOST: Yeah, you know we’re claiming credit for this one, don’t you Andrew?

LEIGH: I think we all should. It's a great result. It should have happened to week earlier, but the fact that finally the New South Wales Government saw sense is just terrific.  And for those hundred Canberrans at the border, they will be very relieved to be back home and starting their two weeks of self isolation.

BUCK: Tell us what the edict is, what are the rules from New South Wales Health?

LEIGH: Over the next four days, there'll be a period from 9am to 3pm in which Canberrans who are wishing to get back from Wodonga back to Canberra are able to travel on a direct route. There’s one designated stopping point. When they get to Canberra they have to check in at Hall, which is a lovely classic village of the edge of Canberra - highly recommended as a tourist spot for anyone visiting Canberra - and check in with police there before they begin their fortnight of self-isolation. So it's very, very sensible rules. And just to remind your listeners as to why these people are in Victoria, some of them have gone down to be at the bedsides of dying family members. One man went there to be with his father in his final days and then attend the funeral. It's something that every one of us would have done. And they understand they have to go into self-isolation, they understand the Victorian situation means that they'll need to self isolate for the fortnight, but it would have been crazy to force them back to the back to Melbourne airport, to abandon their possessions there to fly to Sydney and do self isolation in Sydney. In fact, some people have had to do that. Some people have already abandoned their positions and gone through that process, so it’s been pretty disappointing for them.

BUCK: Well, somebody who's been stranded on that border is Joe Craddy, a Canberran. Heading home today Joe.

JOE CRADDY, FENNER RESIDENT: Indeed. Good morning, all. That’s certainly my hope, and the plan so far.

BUCK: It looks like it. Tell us your story.

CRADDY: I’m a Canberra resident, I came down to Wodonga, I made it as far into Victoria as a couple of K's just on two weeks ago. A very close friend of mine passed away a couple of weeks back. She was 29 years old, and her husband has been like best friend since kindergarten. School, the whole way together through in Canberra. Went to university together - I actually did my undergrad while Dr Leigh was also a professor of my college. Best man at each other's weddings, best friends since kindergarten, and I came down here to spend some time with him after his wife passed away, to help him get his house in order and generally just be with me during this difficult time. Obviously, I was aware of the restrictions involved and the fact that I’d have to quarantine, isolate once I got back to Canberra. But the first I heard of this all happening was I saw on the news on Friday afternoon that people weren't being allowed to cross. I’ll admit, at the time I didn't really think that much of it because ‘that's just a bureaucratic thing, it’ll sort itself out in a couple of hours’. And it was a couple hours later and I’d had a number of phone calls from friends and family that ‘ah, ok, actually this is probably a little bit more serious than that’. I got in touch with the ACT Chief Minister that evening. I've been in constant contact with both him and ACT Health. I got in touch with Andrew here, I think, Monday morning. I’ve been constantly trying to talk to the Health Minister and Premier of NSW to get an answer out of them, but it's just frustrating times.

HARMER: What are your plans for when you're going to take off, and when you get home?

CRADDY: So I understand the border will be open from 9am this morning, I plan to be there at about 9.01.


CRADDY: The bag I'm standing next to is already packed, the car is fully fuelled and ready to go. As I said, I'm literally less than five minutes’ drive away from the specific, the only border crossing that we’re allowed to use in Wodonga. I plan on driving straight through home to Canberra. As Andrew said, I’ve got to check in with ACT Police just as I cross the border. I'll make it home and hang out there for a couple of weeks.

BUCK: So you’ll be self isolating. There's a $5,000 fine if you reenter NSW in that fortnight. So it’s not that we don't we don't like you, Joe, it's just that that is the rules. You're quite happy with that self isolation requirement?

CRADDY: Yeah, absolutely. I will admit, the fact that I'm in a region that hasn't had any cases for a while now, I did think that was a little bit silly that when NSW announced the restrictions through all of Victoria, not just the hotspotted areas, but also I can understand why that decision was made and I was willing to live with those facts when I came down here. It was when the rules changed when I was already here that was the frustrating part.

HARMER: Well, good on you, Joe. We wish you all the best. Joe Craddy there, who is ready to roll and cross the border. We're going back to Dr Andrew Leigh, who's the federal Member of Fenner in the ACT. What is to stop people there who may not self isolate, who then may cross back into NSW? Are you feeling very confident that that won't happen, Andrew, and what’s to stop it happening?

LEIGH: Wendy, I think people will follow the rules just as they have in other parts of Australia. These self isolation rules are largely self monitoring, but people recognise the danger to the community if they break the rules. So it's not just the fines, but it's also people's understanding that we're all in this together, that if people are careful and follow the rules then that's the way to reduce the spread of a virus. To get that R0 figure down below one. 

BUCK: All right. Have you got your soundtrack worked out, Andrew?

[sound of Convoy playing, laughter]

LEIGH: I think your Convoy choice was terrific. I was also thinking of something from Smokey and the Bandit, for those Canberrans who are rolling back home. 

BUCK: Yeah, maybe a little bit of Cannonball Run in there as well. Well done. Thanks for joining us. And I guess the drivers, enjoy that drive. Thank you, Andrew. 

LEIGH: Thank you both.

BUCK: Dr Andrew Leigh, the federal member for Fenner in the ACT.


Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.