Protest erupts at border between NSW and Queensland over closure

·3-min read

A protest involving around 100 locals erupted at the border between NSW and Queensland on Sunday.

The group, who were seen carrying signs and megaphones, staged a lunchtime protest over their predicament in the cross-border community of Coolangatta.

Queensland in late July reintroduced a hard southern border in response to the spiralling NSW Covid outbreak, progressively tightening exemptions for interstate travel.

Only a small class of essential workers from NSW can cross the state line.

Protestors, for the most part, were outnumbered by police. However two men were arrested over public order breaches and a third for assaulting and obstructing an officer.

People are seen among Police in Coolangatta on the New South Wales and Queensland border during an anti-lockdown protest on Sunday. Source: AAP
People are seen among police in Coolangatta during an anti-lockdown protest on Sunday. Source: AAP

Pictures show several members of a large crowd shouting at police.

Last weekend, a crowd of about 1,000 people rallied against lockdowns and travel bans in Coolangatta.

Earlier this week, Commissioner Katarina Carroll said there will be a crackdown on pedestrians crossing the state border in the town

Pedestrians have freely been walked across the border since the start of the pandemic, but Ms Carroll indicated that officers would no longer turn a blind eye to it.

"Action will be taken on those that are constantly hopping across the border, and I ask that the community as they are, to continually report on that as well," the commissioner said.

NSW has to 'come to the party'

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says Queensland is doing everything it can to resolve its Covid border dispute with NSW but needs the southern state to get its act together.

Hopes of ending weeks of heartache for southern Gold Coast and Tweed region communities were upended on Saturday, with a new war of words over a proposal to move Covid checkpoints south.

Queensland has put forward a very clear option for a border bubble as a means of resolving an issue having a major impact on people's lives, Ms Palaszczuk says.

People are seen during an anti-lockdown protest in Coolangatta on Sunday. Source: AAP
Protestors, for the most part, were outnumbered by police. Source: AAP

"We've extended the olive branch and we'll hand it over to NSW now to see if they'll come to the party," she told reporters on Sunday.

"We're trying everything we can from our end."

That includes dispatching state disaster co-ordinator and deputy police commissioner Steve Gollschewski who will meet with the NSW border commissioner.

Queensland reported one new virus case on Sunday but the premier said it was linked to the existing Indooroopilly cluster, had involved no community exposure and was of "absolutely no concern".

'Want a genuine border bubble'

Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said on Saturday NSW had come to the table after earlier declining offers to move checkpoints to temporarily include Tweed Heads within the northern state.

However NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro insisted no agreement had been struck "despite noise from the Queensland government" and that the southern state vehemently opposed moving the border checkpoint.

"What we want is a genuine border bubble so that workers can get to work and people can access vital health care," he told reporters.

A border bubble would still require travel permits, while moving the border south would not but would create a challenge for Queensland to police an area outside its own jurisdiction.

There is no neat geographical feature which can be used to support enforcement and compliance operations, NSW authorities say, and the region's access to health care would be diminished if Tweed Hospital was temporarily absorbed into Queensland.

With AAP

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