Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk says Queensland is doing everything it can to resolve the Covid border dispute, demanding NSW ‘join hands’ as police brace for thousands of anti-lockdown protesters to storm state borders.
Hopes to end weeks of heartbreak for communities in the southern Gold Coast and Tweed region were turned upside down on Saturday, with another battle of words over a proposal to move Covid checkpoints south.
Queensland has put forward a very clear border bubble option as a way to solve a problem that has a major impact on people’s lives, Ms Palaszczuk says.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) has proposed moving Covid checkpoints south of communities living on the NSW border
Pictured: Police arrest man at Queensland/NSW border protests on Sunday morning
“We have extended the olive branch and we will now hand it over to NSW to see if they come to the party,” she told reporters on Sunday.
“For our part, we try everything we can.”
That includes dispatching the state’s disaster coordinator and Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski, who will meet with the NSW Border Commissioner.
Ms Palaszczuk’s plea comes as dozens of officers gathered in Coolangatta on Sunday morning in anticipation of a repeat of last week’s protest, attended by thousands of people.
Hundreds flocked to both sides of the border to protest the closure, which has divided families and even prevented many from going to work.
After a man was arrested, angry residents were heard chanting, “Let him go.”
“For your crimes they will have a Nuremberg two in Australia and you will all be held accountable for your crimes,” one man yelled at police.
Protesters shouted ‘let him go’ after police arrested a man at border protests on Sunday
People from the border towns gathered to pressure the governments of NSW and Queensland to end the border closures. In the photo: a man with a loudspeaker at the protest
A plane was also seen flying over the area with a banner behind it that read: ‘End lockdowns – vote Liberal Democrats.’
On Saturday, police reminded protesters not to cross the state line unless without a valid and valid waiver.
Those who participate in demonstrations that intentionally ignore the guidelines could face fines of up to $4,135 for non-compliance.
Earlier this week, Gold Coast police fined a man from Murwillumbah after investigating alleged actions during protest activities in Coolangatta last Sunday.
Police will allege that the 52-year-old man was riding a horse when he crossed the border into Queensland without a permit.
Investigators found the man on August 24 and he was fined $4,135.
Pictured: Police arrest a man at Sunday morning anti-lockdown protests
Pictured: A protest sign on the Queensland-NSW border that reads ‘End lockdowns – vote for Liberal Democrats’
Queensland reintroduced a hard southern border in late July in response to the burgeoning NSW outbreak, with exemptions for interstate travel being gradually tightened.
Only a small group of essential NSW workers can cross the state line, despite the area essentially functioning as one cross-border city.
Queensland Attorney General Shannon Fentiman said on Saturday that NSW had come to the table following previous offers to move checkpoints to temporarily include Tweed Heads in the northern state.
However, NSW Deputy Prime Minister John Barilaro stressed that no agreement had been reached “despite noise from the Queensland Government” and that the southern state was strongly opposed to moving the border checkpoint.
“What we want is a real border bubble so that workers can get to work and people have access to essential health care,” he told reporters.
Police allege a 52-year-old man was riding a horse when he crossed the Queensland border without a permit during last week’s protest (pictured)
Pictured: People at the Tweed Heads Coolangatta protest. About 2,000 people attended the demonstration in an attempt to cross state lines between NSW and Qld . to reopen
A border bubble would still require travel permits, while moving the border south would pose no challenge for Queensland to guard an area outside its own jurisdiction.
There is no fancy geographic feature that can be used to support enforcement and compliance activities, NSW authorities say, and the region’s access to health care would be reduced if Tweed Hospital were temporarily admitted to Queensland.
Ms Palaszczuk says she is ‘very encouraged’ by Queensland’s vaccination coverage.
About 49.4 percent of adults have had their first dose of the vaccine and 37 percent have been fully vaccinated.
Queensland reported one new virus case on Sunday, but the Prime Minister said it was related to the existing Indooroopilly cluster, there was no community exposure and it was “absolutely not a concern”.