National

Stranded Canberrans finally allowed home

By AAP Newswire

Canberra residents stranded at the Victoria-NSW border for almost a week will finally be allowed to drive home.

The 100 territorians have been stranded south of the Murray River for six days, due to fears they could spread coronavirus through southern NSW.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has buckled and given the ACT residents days to get back to Canberra.

From Thursday, they will have to travel between the hours of 9am and 3pm, with strict protocols in place and NSW Police on hand to help out.

The belated decision ends a maddening impasse between political leaders in NSW and the ACT.

ACT chief minister Andrew Barr is pleased and relieved with the decision.

"This is an outcome that, though several days late, is positive," he said.

They will have to self-isolate for 14 days once they return to the ACT.

Earlier, Mr Barr hatched a cunning plan to get the territorians back to the capital.

He offered a police escort for all ACT residents trapped at the Victoria-NSW border who were unable to drive home.

But that was not good enough for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who insisted on blocking the Canberra residents from crossing into her state.

Mr Barr then nominated a nondescript spot about four kilometres north of the Dog on the Tuckerbox in Gundagai for a brief pit stop.

"This has been going on too long," he told ABC radio.

NSW was worried about the 100 Canberrans stopping to refuel, but Mr Barr insisted the issue was not insurmountable.

"We believe we have put forward a very clear and common-sense way in which it can be managed," he said.

"Cars would be fuelled up in Wodonga, they would not need to stop anywhere near where they would come near people."

After travel rules changed late last week, ACT residents have been unable to drive home through NSW from Victoria and must fly to Canberra Airport.

"It's time to get on with getting these people home and into quarantine," Mr Barr said.

The chief minister was perplexed at why Victorian federal politicians were allowed to drive through NSW to Canberra for parliament.

He asked the NSW premier why it was safe for politicians but not ACT residents.

"It hasn't been a satisfactory answer to that question."

Alicia Payne, the federal member for Canberra, urged the prime minister to intervene.

"Of course, safety must be our first priority but that does not mean that common-sense solutions cannot be put in place to facilitate essential movement of people across Australia," she wrote to Scott Morrison.