Moruya Bypass Work Increases COVID Risks to Eurobodalla

The Beagle Editor,

Last week saw a Sydney–based worker travel to the NSW north coast taking the COVID-19 virus with them. This caused the Byron and Tweed Shires to be plunged into lockdown, at great cost to their local communities. The worker had apparently been vaccinated and their employer had a CovidSAFE plan in operation.

This same situation has been occurring in the Eurobodalla, where Sydney-based Transport for NSW contractors have been undertaking survey work for the Moruya Bypass since the start of September. The events that occurred at ByronBay show that there are significant and real risks associated with this. work on the Moruya bypass

While most of us are locked down and can’t leave the Eurobodalla, Transport for NSW has contract survey teams from both Sydney, and other local government areas currently under lock down, out and about in our community conducting work on both private and public land around Moruya. ‘Stay at home’ rules apply to everyone in these local government areas and presumably that means members of these survey teams, so what are they doing in the Eurobodalla? Even if they were locals, Eurobodalla is one of the local government areas subject to these same ‘stay at home rules’, so why is it that they are able roam around Moruya with impunity?

According to NSW Health, you must not enter regional NSW without a ‘reasonable excuse’, but survey work is not a listed as a ‘reasonable excuse’. These survey teams do also not qualify as ‘authorised workers’ under NSW COVID rules - despite the fact that they may have been vaccinated. While COVID 19 has restricted what most people can do and impacted many of our businesses, the Moruya Bypass project has carried on regardless. The first consultation for the Bypass was conducted back in March last year just after the Black Summer bushfires and as COVID 19 first hit our community. Most people were not aware of it because it was entirely online and therefore very few people responded. At the most recent consultation in May this year, the Eurobodalla community were presented with a preferred route for the bypass. Transport for NSW said their choice reflected the feedback received during the first consultation period and at a single online workshop which was attended by only 3 local business and community representatives who signed confidentiality agreements and have not been able to share any information with the people they are supposed to represent. COVID restrictions meant that the most recent consultation was limited to 2 market stalls and 2 information sessions where numbers were limited. So if you aren’t sure about where the bypass will go, who it will impact and what it will look like, you are not alone.

COVID-19 has made things much easier for Transport for NSW to push through the bypass route they have favoured all along by limiting community input and restricting any community involvement or discussion. Right now during the latest COVID lockdown they are “Zooming in” remotely to discuss acquiring properties for their preferred route with hapless landowners who are being played off against one another while being told not share the details of these negotiations with anyone.

These activities are occurring before Transport for NSW has even issued its report on the outcome of the consultation sessions held in May this year, and despite the fact that they have still not provided any detailed responses to the many significant technical, social, environmental and cultural issues raised by the community during these consultations. These include how the preferred route will align with the new Regional Hospital planned for Moruya, and why this unnecessarily expensive and destructive route will be funded to the tune of at least $750 million, while our Regional Hospital is being starved of adequate resources.

To find out more, go to the Moruya Bypass Action Group Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Moruya-Bypass-Action-Group-100593015562599/) and our soon to be live website at https://moruyabypass.org/.

If you want to support the best possible bypass for Moruya, you can sign the petition at the link on our Facebook page and website. Moruya Bypass Action Group

Above: the 'Teflon Defence' of Transport for NSW that puts them above being answerable to the community. Phone calls instead of letters, asking locals to keep information and discussions confidential, even from their neighbours. "What phone call?".

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