Queensland border - Griffith St border checkpoint in Coolangatta, July 15. Photo: Jessica Lamb
Queensland border - Griffith St border checkpoint in Coolangatta, July 15. Photo: Jessica Lamb

Cop explains why ‘locals' border pass only good in theory

A TWEED councillor has echoed calls from our State MP to solve border traffic chaos by using a 'locals-only' border pass.

However, Queensland's top cop has said the design of border checkpoint roadways means a locals-only lane isn't feasible.

Bumper-to-bumper gridlock throughout Tweed Heads stemming from Queensland's border checkpoints not only has the twin-town residents seeing red, but has commuters reporting 90-minute delays to and from work.

<<READ MORE: Troops called in to reinforce border>>

Since Queensland opened its borders to everyone except travellers from COVID-19 hot spots on July 10, the four border checkpoints currently operating have struggled with the sheer number of vehicles wanting to pass into the sunshine state.

 

Traffic mayhem on Wharf St Tweed Heads near the Francis St roundabout as cars queue to get through the Queensland border about an hour after it opened on July 10.
Traffic mayhem on Wharf St Tweed Heads near the Francis St roundabout as cars queue to get through the Queensland border about an hour after it opened on July 10.

 

Last-minute changes to border declaration passes and inspections of most NSW-registered vehicles has only compounded the issue, according to Tweed Shire Councillor James Owen.

Cr Owen wrote in a letter to the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last week that he had been 'inundated' by complaints from residents and businesses about the impacts to their daily lives.

<<READ MORE: Top cop heckled as anger explodes over border delays>>

Concerns ranged from students arriving late to and from school, reduced access to driveways on residential streets, the impact on cross border community sport - particularly for children - and difficulty accessing Queensland medical appointments.

 

Tweed Shire councillor James Owen.
Tweed Shire councillor James Owen.

 

Other issues included the impact on "an already severely impacted tourism industry" in the Tweed, costs to local businesses, the ability of emergency services to traverse the border and congested residential streets and buses on certain routes experiencing hours-long delays.

Cr Owen said he believed a 'locals-only' border pass, with dedicated lanes at the

check points for those who live in the Tweed Shire, would fix these problems while ensuring protection against the coronavirus.

<<READ MORE: 'No other way': Tit-for-tat tensions over border delays>>

Queensland Police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said in a press conference last week while a different pass was "good in theory", there were real life issues.

"This is not like lining up at a restaurant or a nightclub and being able to be removed from the line for a priority line, we are talking about roads here so vehicles that are in a line we cannot simply move them up to different parts," Sup Int Wheeler said.

He explained the roads were not contracted to have any room for safe 'locals only' lanes and Queensland Police could not regulate who used the roads in NSW.

 

Queensland Police's Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler at a press conference at the Griffith St, Coolangatta border checkpoint last week. Photo: Jessica Lamb
Queensland Police's Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler at a press conference at the Griffith St, Coolangatta border checkpoint last week. Photo: Jessica Lamb

 

"For instances, if cars are approaching checkpoints from NSW whether they have a 'G' pass or some other type of pass like an 'L' (for locals) we can't change the order in which they come in and we certainly can't stop a class of user from using the roadways," he said.

<<READ MORE: Simple idea that could solve border traffic nightmare>>

Cr Owen said with the border towns economies both suffering, the "one size fits all" approach to border restrictions had locals loosing confidence in authorities.

"I've got no interest in playing the blame game or political points scoring, I just want to see a solution," he said.

Last Tuesday, Tweed MP Geoff Provest also wrote to the Queensland Premier and the Queensland police Minister to advocate for an "L" pass to be introduced for locals only that would not expire each week.

Mr Provest said 30 per cent of Tweed's residents work in Queensland and 15 per cent of our children attend school there.


LNP’s $7m pledge to fix dodgy Lowood to Fernvale road

Premium Content LNP’s $7m pledge to fix dodgy Lowood to Fernvale road

IF successful, tenders will be sent out within the first 100 days.

Fatal levels of nicotine in Queensland vapes

Premium Content Fatal levels of nicotine in Queensland vapes

Poisons lines inundated with calls about nicotine poisoning from vapers

Samsung phone ‘explodes’ in man’s hands

Premium Content Samsung phone ‘explodes’ in man’s hands

The popular brand of phone ‘started to smoke’ before exploding, while still under...