NOT THE OUTBACK: The State Government has explained why the North Burnett was not classed as an outback area. Picture: Emily Smith.
NOT THE OUTBACK: The State Government has explained why the North Burnett was not classed as an outback area. Picture: Emily Smith.

EXPLAINED: Why our remote region wasn’t remote enough

THE State Government has revealed why the North Burnett was not classed as part of outback Queensland in its road map to coronavirus recovery.

On May 8, Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a three-stage recovery plan for Queensland following the coronavirus pandemic.

This involved dividing Queensland into outback and metropolitan areas which were assigned two separate strategies.

Greater allowances were given to outback shires which neighbour the North Burnett, such as Banana, Maranoa, and Balonne, which includes greater capacities for pubs, cafes, and public gatherings.

Multiple publicans in North Burnett refused to open for the first stage of restrictions, claiming it was not viable to open for dine-in trade for 10 people at a time.

North Burnett Regional Council mayor Rachel Chambers has now received clarification as to why the North Burnett was not classed as an outback area.

"After discussion with the state, it was understood that the outback boundary was established using the Queensland Hospital and Health Service District boundaries as a guide," Cr Chambers said.

"Although the North Burnett had been COVID-19 free during this time, other local government areas in the Wide Bay Health District had not."

Cr Chambers spoke with those in businesses and industry who were directly affected by the outback boundary, to see if they would like her to advocate for that classification.

"The feedback received was that it was not financially viable for their business to reopen to normal services under both the standard and outback restrictions," she said.

"Council is acutely aware of our community's desire to remain COVID-19 free, therefore a decision not to advocate for a change in boundaries was decided."

Stage two of the recovery plan is to take effect on Friday, June 12, when North Burnett pubs and cafes will be allowed up to 20 dine-in patrons at a time, and holiday travel within the region will be permitted.