Police crackdown to stop drivers reaching Gold Coast

 

HOLIDAYMAKERS and day trippers are risking more than just a sunburn if caught coming down the M1 to go to Gold Coast beaches this Easter long weekend.

From today, Gold Coast police will patrol the M1 southern lanes, pulling over out-of-town cars and giving them two options; go home, or go home with a $1334 fine.

The tough new measures are aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus, with the Easter break seen as a battleground in the war against the continued spread.

Police will have a beefed up presence on the road, with cops also expected to use covert strategies to capture those trying to flout non-essential travel guidelines.

 

 

Police will patrol the southern lanes of the M1 looking for out-of-towners trying to reach the Gold Coast. Picture: Scott Powick.
Police will patrol the southern lanes of the M1 looking for out-of-towners trying to reach the Gold Coast. Picture: Scott Powick.

 

 

And it won't just be drivers stung with a fines. Every person inside the car, if found to be undertaking non-essential travel can expect to cop a hit to their wallet.

Gold Coast Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said the clear message was don't come unless it's essential travel.

"Over the Easter period there will be significant police resources allocated to the operation and that will be their sole function for the break," Supt Wheeler said.

"Predominantly they will be focused on the southbound lanes of the M1 and it will be done in a mobile capacity, they will intercept vehicles, they will speak to the occupants of the vehicles and work out if they're engaged in essential travel.

"If they're clearly not engaged in essential travel, appropriate action will be taken.

"It's a conversation between the officer and the member of the public, ideally we don't want people travelling down at all, but where we identify people who are, we will speak to them, but there is always an option to issue an infringement notice.

"The message is, don't get yourself in that position, don't travel to the Gold Coast for the long weekend and don't travel unless it's essential."

 

Police will be patrolling the M1 looking for drivers engaged in non-essential travel. Picture: Nigel Hallett.
Police will be patrolling the M1 looking for drivers engaged in non-essential travel. Picture: Nigel Hallett.

 

Supt Wheeler said police would funnel a lot of resources into the operation aimed at saving lives.

"Police resources are being allocated to do this when we simply shouldn't have to. If people do the right thing, we won't be dedicating police resources to do this kind of thing.

"Unfortunately what we've seen over the last week, we really have no option, because every bit of non-essential travel poses a risk to people travelling and the wider community. This is about trying to stop the spread of COVID-19, not ­trying to make people's live unnecessarily difficult.

"Don't waste police resources, don't waste police time. Stay at home, we're trying to save people's lives, not try and make them harder," he said.

 

The M1 normally sees heavy traffic on Easter weekend. Picture: Lawrence Pinder.
The M1 normally sees heavy traffic on Easter weekend. Picture: Lawrence Pinder.

 

Cars pull-overs would be based on intelligence including where registered but also at random, he said.

"We can easily check while we're driving where a car is registered to and when we engage with the driver of the vehicle, we'll be able to find out very quickly where they are from," he said.

"This is non-essential travel (coming down for a holiday or day trip), you've got two choices, one you return home, or the other one is you return home and you get an infringement notice.

"Everyone in that vehicle has made that conscious decision to do non-essential travel, so we would certainly consider to issue fines for everyone in that car, not just the driver."

 

Police are already conducting checks at the southern end of the M1 at the NSW border. Photo: Scott Powick.
Police are already conducting checks at the southern end of the M1 at the NSW border. Photo: Scott Powick.


Police would use all of their resources to capture people thumbing their nose at the non-essential travel guidelines, he said.

"People can expect to see an overt police presence, but there will also be a covert police presence, there is CCTV technology that we can rely on, we have direct feeds into our operation centre and we do have the ability to follow up later.

"Police also have automated number plate recognition technology, just because you weren't intercepted, does not mean there won't be follow-up.

"The people who ran the border at Miles St, thought they got away with it, until they got a phone call from a police officer a couple of days later and they've all worn a $1334 ticket."

Originally published as Police crackdown to stop Brisbane drivers reaching Coast


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