Crackdown on people changing their address to avoid restrictions

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Service NSW has suspended the website function that allows people to change their address following a surge in the number of people exploiting a loophole in the public health orders.

The variation in permitted activities between local government areas has prompted large numbers of people to change their registered addresses to avoid the COVID-19 restrictions that apply to their part of the state.

Service NSW has suspended the website function that allows people to change their address.

People who live in the 12 local government areas of concern in Sydney are subjected to a 9pm curfew and can only exercise for one hour per day, and construction workers are required to be vaccinated to work more than five kilometres from home. Construction workers who live in other parts of the city are not required to be vaccinated.

Wollongong solicitor Nathan Buckley, who is drumming up clients for a potential class action against lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations, encouraged his social media followers last week to circumvent rules by changing their business address with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

“A tip to get around the LGA rules,” he posted in the closed Facebook group Tradies, Truckies and others v NSW government jabs. “Log in to the ASIC portal and change your registered business address and principal place of business address to an LGA that is not restricted.”

Mr Buckley was suspended from Facebook last week and has moved his followers to Telegram where he was recently asked for advice on changing a business address. “Get onto ASIC,” Mr Buckley responded. “You also have to change your residential address. Consider renting something cheap outside the LGAs.”

Construction workers line up for a COVID-19 test at a site at Green Square in Sydney’s inner south.Credit:Kate Geraghty

A Service NSW spokesman said the agency was aware of increased demand by customers to change their residential address and was tightening access to the function to manage “potentially fraudulent” activity.

Transport for NSW asked the agency to suspend access to the “change of address” function on its website to all local government areas under stay-at-home orders, to boost compliance.

“Customers are advised to delay updating their address until after public health restrictions have eased and will now have three months from the move date to do so,” the spokesman said.

“Affected customers who need to validate their new address are advised to carry alternative proof of residential address such as their council rates notice, a utility bill or rental agreement.”

Until the state went into lockdown on August 14, people living outside Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Shellharbour and Wollongong had greater freedom of movement, prompting some Sydney residents to list their holiday homes as their primary residence.

The loophole that allowed people to travel between residences has also been tightened following an outcry over several high-profile events including revelations that District Court Judge Chris Hoy and his wife, Phoebe, used their holiday house in the Shoalhaven to quarantine for 14 days before skiing in Thredbo. Mrs Hoy checked with the health authorities in advance and confirmed the couple were “totally within the rules”.

The government subsequently banned travel between residences except for essential maintenance, but only one member of a couple was allowed to travel.

Another exemption for people inspecting real estate enabled Rose Bay resident Zoran Radovanovic to travel to Byron Bay, where he subsequently tested positive to COVID-19 and plunged Byron Bay, Richmond Valley, Lismore and Ballina into lockdown.

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