A PLAN to free up the Albury-Wodonga region and allow it to be a "test case" for living with COVID-19 has been outlined to the premiers of NSW and Victoria.
State politicians Justin Clancy and Bill Tilley have put the proposal to Gladys Berejiklian and Daniel Andrews in a letter jointly signed by five mayors and 20 other prominent figures.
"We're asking you to put a ring around the Albury and Benambra electorates," the pair write.
They tell the leaders they want "to make this the test case for how we live with and respond to the immediate threat of COVID-19 and future pandemics".
"Use this 'Border Bubble' to demonstrate best practice in living in COVID-normal and responding to outbreaks," the MPs suggest.
The bubble would go from Jerilderie to Khancoban and from Henty to Mount Beauty.
The mayors of the cities of Albury and Wodonga and the shires of Alpine, Indigo and Towong have endorsed the idea.
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Other signatories include Albury Wodonga Health's director of emergency care David Clancy, Albury Northside Chamber of Commerce chair Bronwyn Tyrell and Victorian Transport Association chief executive Peter Anderson.
The letter has also been endorsed by medical figures Craig Underhill and Jonathan Lewin, business group leaders Tim Farrah and Andrew Cottrill and disability advocate Martin Butcher.
The MPs tell the premiers the region can no longer cope with existing border clamps.
"Pinched between Victoria's Stage 3 restrictions and the ill-advised conditions applied to Border-crossing permits the current situation is unsustainable, divisive and encouraging non-compliance and law breaking," Mr Clancy and Mr Tilley state.
They ask the premiers to "lift Victoria's Stage 3 restrictions and remove the need for NSW Border crossing permits for those inside the bubble".
However, the duo state that mask wearing, social distancing and hygiene measures would be maintained inside the bubble.
Mr Clancy and Mr Tilley note the request may mean moving checkpoints and concessions from health authorities, but they argue it would not require additional funding and would acknowledge "we are very different to the city suburbs or other regional centres".
The pair reflect on cross border structures dating to the creation of the development corporation in the 1970s and point to a bubble being able to "lay the groundwork" for removing anomalies.
"Our proposal is formative and accepts there is no mortgage on the good ideas," the Liberal Party duo write.
"There will be 'red flags' and 'what ifs' but this is an opportunity to tackle COVID head-on, bridge the community divide and champion change and policy for the good of the entire nation.
This is possibly the most significant piece in @bordermail today. Thank you Prof Whitsed. Love your work. -> Should the border checkpoint be moved north? This uni research thinks so https://t.co/9ZlP8FkcT2@helenhainesindi@sussanley@billtilleymla@jclancyliberal#border— Craig Underhill (@CraigUnderhill) August 15, 2020
"The proposal is offered in good faith, it is a call to action that we hope you have the courage to embrace."
Mr Clancy said on Sunday that the letter had been sent on Thursday evening.
"We're wanting to reiterate that this has a human toll, it can't be set and forget, it needs to be continually re-examined and looking at alternative solutions," he said.
"Our community needs to know a way forward and that becomes an important thing to focus on in the next few weeks."
Mr Tilley said: "We're offering the premiers a solution to the lazy policy and crippling restrictions and permits that are killing businesses and destroying families."
He said given that "we have more than 150,000 people, if we can live with it then why couldn't this plan be rolled out elsewhere".