Inside story of failed plot to move border south

 

QUEENSLAND police put forward a plan to move the state's border crossing to the Tweed River to help locals avoid traffic chaos.

But the plan, mooted months ago, was instantly rejected by their NSW counterparts.

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The details of the plan can be revealed amid escalating anger over continuing traffic chaos on the Gold Coast, especially for residents.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk suggested some of the fault lay with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, when questioned over Mayor Tom Tate's renewed push to move border checkpoints south to the river.

"I put that to NSW and they rejected it," she told the Today show.

"This was right from the very beginning, to make the Tweed River the border, so those border communities could go backwards and forwards, and that was rejected."

 

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate this week. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty Images
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate this week. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty Images

 

But Member for Tweed Geoff Provest claims New South Wales has heard nothing but 'radio silence'.

"I spoke to Gladys (Berejilkian) this morning and she has not heard from Annastacia (Palaszczuk) at all," Mr Provest said.

The Courier-Mail can reveal that even before Queensland closed its borders in March, police tried to come up with a plan that would reduce upheaval for residents.

A plan was put forward to send Queensland police down to Tweed River bridge crossings to help NSW police manage traffic flows there instead of along the Gold Coast.

It was suggested that the crossings - south of where the majority of local residents travel daily - would be less disruptive.

But NSW ministers were unimpressed, especially as the plan would have seen the Tweed Hospital effectively moved into Queensland.

The revelations come as a 700m border wall was erected at Coolangatta yesterday to stop frustrated drivers trying to sneak into Queensland.

Police called for the wall after motorists were driving around plastic barriers on a Coolangatta backstreet that leads into Tweed Heads.

 

The new border wall is lowered into place in Coolangatta yesterday. Picture: Nigel Hallett
The new border wall is lowered into place in Coolangatta yesterday. Picture: Nigel Hallett

 

The water barricade wall, running almost the length of Dixon St, was erected by Gold Coast City Council workers. It follows problems with mainly border residents, including Tweed Heads H­ospital visitors, skirting the border blockade.

Police said motorists had been driving over an embankment next to the barricaded roundabout at the intersection of Dixon St, Coolangatta, and Florence St, Tweed Heads, to illegally enter Queensland.

The problem has escalated after the Sydney local government areas of Liverpool and Campbelltown were declared COVID hot spots on Tuesday, leading to delays of up to two hours at the border.

Police are now pulling over and checking every NSW-registered vehicle at the checkpoints, leading to lengthy traffic snarls.

Gold Coast Police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said police needed a more "robust" barrier to stop border breaches on Dixon St.

"They (motorists) were coming into Queensland technically unlawfully, so we just strengthened that up," he said of the new border wall.

 

 

"I understand that people are frustrated, but by doing that (rat-running), they're ­actually breaking the law and we'd ask them not to do that," Supt Wheeler said.

"That's why we've taken this action."

Meanwhile, a new-look border pass was introduced yesterday in a bid to speed up traffic flows through the checkpoints.

The new pass displays the expiry date in large, bold ­letters to make it easier for police manning the checkpoints to see.

But Supt Wheeler warned: "The one thing that will not change - there will still be ­delays.

"That's unfortunately an iron-clad guarantee.

"We're funnelling tens of thousands of vehicles a day through one lane to visually assess and then filter either to an express lane or to an inspection bay.

"So irrespective of saving time (with the pass), and we will, there will still be delays."

He admitted he was concerned about emergency services vehicles being caught up in border traffic jams and said priority access points were being looked at.

Twenty-two people from COVID hot spots were turned around at the five Gold Coast border checkpoints in the 24 hours to 5pm yesterday.

 

Originally published as Inside story of failed plot to move border south


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