Calls grow stronger to open river for business

By Andrew Johnston

BUSINESS is calling on the NSW Government to do more for those operating on the river.

The government announced on Wednesday, September 16, the border would be open to those with a valid border pass to travel freely between border communities without restrictions.

However, the change does not allow businesses who operate on the river to resume operation to full capacity.

Luxury on the Murray houseboats owner David Grubb said while the changes were positive, they simply weren't enough while the majority of regional Victoria was restricted from travelling on the river.

“The majority of our business comes from the south of the state,” he said.

“We appreciate that the changes which have been announced are a really positive step forward for our community, and that will make a big difference for locals.

“But for those who run businesses on the river, it's simply not enough. We need to see more done to open up the river itself to the rest of regional Victoria.”

Mr Grubb said the industry was still hurting and needed support.

“It's been a very tough period for all business,” he said.

“We are starting to see the opportunity for business to re-open and begin to recover, and we are hoping the changes are made soon so we can begin that process as well.”

Murray River Paddlesteamers director Rohan Burgess said the decision was a bad outcome for business.

“This decision is extremely disappointing for all tourism businesses along the river who are already on their knees having not traded now for six months,” he said.

“Regional Victorians, who represent 40 per cent of our business, will not choose to visit the Murray River if it is not open, they will simply choose to holiday elsewhere in Victoria.

“There can be no border tourism recovery unless the river is open.”

Mr Burgess said there would be no reasonable risk posed by the operation of business on the water.

“How can any person boarding a vessel from the Victorian side of the river, enjoying an outdoor cruise along the river and then being returned to the same spot, cause a health risk to any NSW resident?" he said.

“It makes no sense at all and shows a total lack of awareness from NSW Health, who are now putting at risk tourism jobs and businesses all along the river in both NSW and Victoria.”