Gold Coast shifts to NSW under Premier’s radical alternative
PREMIER Gladys Berejiklian has met news of a Queensland plan to change border checkpoints with her own plan to move the border further north, effectively placing the Gold Coast in NSW.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will write to her NSW counterpart today laying out a detailed plan to improve border checkpoint operations.
It follows news that the NSW Police Minister ruled out Queensland suggestions in March that checkpoints be placed at Tweed River crossings, to make travel easier for border communities.
Ms Berejiklian said she was "happy to engage" but was still in the dark on the proposed plan.
"It's only this morning that I got a very short text from the Queensland Premier about the matter," she said.
"And we're happy to engage but I'm happy to consider all options except I do not believe at any stage we should move the border.
"If anything, the border should be moved north.
"There is zero infection in northern NSW at this stage and certainly we'll do the right thing by residents on both sides of the border but I have no intention of changing things as yet.
"I'm unclear as to what the Queensland Government is asking us to do because they've not communicated that yet."
Ms Palaszczuk earlier revealed that talks took place between Queensland and NSW in March about moving its state border south.
The proposed move could've seen a massive amount of headache potentially avoided by motorists as the current border becomes congested with delays on a daily basis.
It comes as the Gold Coast confirms is it 'absolutely' ready to move border checkpoints south into NSW if the talks are successful.
Talking today, Ms Palaszczuk said she will send a detailed letter to the New South Wales Government.
"What we are trying here is to... how do we keep these border communities together," she said.
"Of course it's New South Wales residents that are impacted as well and there has been suggestions about moving that down to the Tweed River.
"My understanding is that conversations did take place back in March between two respective police ministers, that's what my minister for police Mark Ryan informed me of over the weekend.
"And look I think in the spirit of co-operation it would be good if the New South Wales Government could now, now we're in July, give due consideration, it would make it much easier operationally, it would keep those two communities together and of course they will remain New South Wales residents.
"It is just about making that flow of communities easier."
It follows delays of up to two hours crossing the border after new COVID hotspots were declared in Sydney.
However, it's understood there would be significant challenges for police, with concerns people leaving COVID hotspots could still enter Queensland through NSW back roads if the main checkpoint is moved.
Queensland police would also have to be sworn in as special constables to be allowed to operate in NSW.
But Gold Coast police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said police were ready to follow any directions from the Palaszczuk Government when it came to border control.
"We've been operating in our current locations since the 26th of March and we've continually adapted and changed since the conditions have changed," he said.
"If we're advised that we're to operate in a different area, we're absolutely in a position to do that."
Sixty Australian Defence Force troops were brought in at the weekend to help police and State Emergency Service volunteers try to speed up traffic flows through the checkpoints.
Supt Wheeler said peak hour delays had been slashed from about 90-plus minutes down to 23 minutes.
He said motorists were helping by downloading the correct border declaration passes and displaying them properly in windscreens.
The Premier said Queensland police would still man the checkpoints should the border move.
This comes as last week the Courier-Mail revealed that the plan originally put forward by Queensland Police would've seen its officers sent down to the Tweed River bridge crossings to help NSW police manage traffic flows there instead of along the Gold Coast.
It was suggested the crossing would be less disruptive to the local residents.
Queensland Police also took the extraordinary step of installing a 700m border wall at Coolangatta last Thursday, attempting to stop frustrated drivers trying to sneak into Queensland.
Police called for the wall after border crossing motorists were driving around plastic barriers on a Coolangatta backstreet that leads into Tweed Heads.