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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.