Steven Marshall is suppressing the Media
The Premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall’s border restrictions have been imposed as part of a policy of suppression of COVID 19. It may or may not be effective in this regard but it is definitely effective in suppressing the media.
In South Australia truckies, health workers, food suppliers, and politicians are deemed to be essential service providers but no-one else is. This means that journalists and communication engineers can only cross the border to another jurisdiction if they are prepared to spend a fortnight in quarantine.
Think about it: if there is a major event in the Northern Territory, Western Australia or Queensland and a journalist travels to cover it, they have to go into quarantine even though there is no evidence of community transmission in these states. Even worse if a transmitter breaks down in the Northern Territory and an engineer from SA goes to fix it they cannot return home to service transmitters in South Australia for a fortnight if they break down.
This means that in the event of a breakdown, the Northern Territory could be without broadcasts until a vaccine is available or the restrictions are lifted.
South Australia is the only state that has these draconian restrictions.
Flow Media has had its own experience of these restrictions. Three weeks ago Hannah Phillips the editor in chief of Flow News 24 went to the national capital to establish a Canberra bureau. At the time there was no restriction on traveling to Canberra.
Canberra has never had community transmission of COVID 19. How do we know this? Because unlike other states and territories, the ACT has been testing its wastewater and it has never found a trace of the virus. In addition, when Hannah arrived in Canberra there had not been a case of coronavirus in the territory for more than a month.
Nevertheless, a couple of days after Hannah arrived in Canberra, the South Australian government announced fresh restrictions. Under these restrictions, people wishing to return to South Australia were required to apply for a permit. She applied for a permit with the expectation that she would receive a response, as announced, within 72 hours.
A fortnight later she had still not heard anything. When she rang authorities in Adelaide she was told to stay in the ACT indefinitely. However Hannah had a business to run in South Australia, so not knowing whether she would be allowed into the state, she flew home. She is now serving two weeks in quarantine.
There are two implications that flow from this shortsighted policy, one is economic and the other is political. The economic implication is that business recovery will be impeded if businesses are prevented from traveling interstate, even if the destinations are COVID free. Think about the wine industry where winemakers need to travel to promote their product.
Politically, South Australians deserve to have their own media cover political events, like Josh Frydenberg’s economic statement in Canberra on Thursday.
Beyond this, it is in the Marshall government’s interest to have its messages disseminated around Australia. At the moment it seems more interested in closing down anyone who wants to run a national network from South Australia.