News

Border permits ‘beyond a joke’, Cobram company says

By Spencer Fowler Steen

A Cobram dairy technology company says the Victorian-NSW border permit system is "beyond a joke", forcing them to choose between animal welfare or massive fines.

Advanced Dairy Systems director Adrian Heyward runs a 24-hour operation providing milking technology for farmers across Victoria and NSW.

Mr Heyward said despite trying to do the right thing, it had been nearly impossible to keep up with constantly changing permits for different areas.

“We’re trying to do the right thing, but they’re bamboozled, and they’re bamboozling us,” he said.

“We offer a 24-hour service for farmers because if they can’t milk their cows, it’s not good for these cows and it causes bad animal welfare.”

Mr Heyward said the company had had to apply for two different permits for the same day, one for the morning, and one for the afternoon.

He said there was recently a situation where a worker had to obtain a permit to travel to Numurkah from Cobram, yet no permit was required to get further away to Echuca or Moama.

A staff member from Tocumwal also could not get a permit to travel to a farm in Walcha, NSW, but ADS employees from Victoria had no problems securing permits to go there.

Logistical nightmare: Advanced Dairy Systems in Cobram has had to issue over 160 permits for drivers because some of their destinations are not on the approved postcode list.

“It’s getting beyond a joke — it’s ridiculous,” he said.

“They’re making it up as they go and it’s putting unnecessary pressure on businesses, and bringing frustration to customers.

“I've had to put famers off for eight days, it’s just crazy.”

The news comes as Rural Councils Victoria, which represents 38 rural municipalities, calls on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to use his influence to resolve the border issues.

Rural Councils Victoria chair Cr Mary-Ann Brown said border closures were cutting communities in half.

“The daily chaos at our borders has gone on far too long and it is time for the Prime Minister to use his influence to help resolve the serious issues the closures are causing,” she said.

Mr Heyward said recently the Victorian Government introduced a list of postcodes workers were allowed to travel and work within, but there were about 10 postcodes ADS worked in which were not on the list.

“We've had to apply for each postcode individually which has worked out to easily over 160 extra permits,” he said.

“I’ve constantly got one of our office staff dedicating an extensive amount of time to make sure we’ve got the permits running correctly, and we’re enduring those extra costs.

“If were not doing the right thing we could potentially get fined $11,000 — it’s a bloody disaster.”

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