‘Totally opposed’: Tweed slams push to shift border

 

TWEED leaders have come out strongly against any suggestion the border should be moved south - regardless of whether it's a short term or permanent measure.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday wrote to her NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian to push for her support to relocate the drama-plagued Tweed-Coolangatta border checkpoints 7km south. The move would be aimed at easing the traffic congestion and impact on the lives of what is essentially one community split in two by border checkpoints.

Ms Berejiklian said she is happy to consider moving the controversial southern Queensland borderline with her state - but further north into the Gold Coast not south to Tweed River as proposed.

"If anything, the border should be moved north," she said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian (NCA Newswire -Flavio Brancaleone).
Premier Gladys Berejiklian (NCA Newswire -Flavio Brancaleone).

"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."

Tweed leaders have slammed the idea, with Mayor Katie Milne saying her council "strongly opposed" moving the border checkpoints south.

"The checkpoint should be moved further north to the Bilinga Tugun area as this is a Queensland initiative," she said. "They need to take responsibility to fix it or bear the burden in their own state not ours.

SECRET BEHIND SHORTER BORDER WAIT TIME

"This would just move the problem further into our Shire and create even more chaos for our community.

"While we understand and support the Queensland Government's border controls this has had a devastating effect on our community and businesses. More needs to be done right now to alleviate the massive delays as people are suffering badly and businesses are going to the wall. We desperately need a more streamlined approach with more attendants to process crossings and locals passes."

Queensland Police stop and inspect all vehicles attempting to enter Queensland at Tugun outside the Gold Coast Airport border crossing. Photo: Scott Powick
Queensland Police stop and inspect all vehicles attempting to enter Queensland at Tugun outside the Gold Coast Airport border crossing. Photo: Scott Powick

Other Tweed leaders are horrified by the calls to shift the border south and worry a permanent move would lead to overdevelopment and a sprawl of unwanted high-rises.

No Tweed councillors have backed the southern border move publicly and Tweed MP Geoff Provest said he believed only a tiny minority of residents supported the idea.

It would see Banora Point and Tweed Heads, two of the shire's most populated suburbs, join the Coast.

Mr Provest said: "I'm absolutely opposed to it."

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"The high-rises have always been a contentious issue. We're quite happy with the way we are," he said.

"It's been a Queensland mess from the beginning. Moving the border would divide the Tweed. It would severely inconvenience the majority.

"The permanent move of the border, to get a bit of reality, you would need to have a referendum in each state."

Tweed Shire Mayor Katie Milne.
Tweed Shire Mayor Katie Milne.

Tweed councillor James Owen said the Tweed wished to retain its own identity.

"One of the key mantras in Tweed is we don't want to be like the Gold Coast. It's about keeping our identity, our relaxed lifestyle, our beautiful environment," he said.

"The kind of Gold Coast-style development is something not right for Tweed and it doesn't need to be.

"We love the Gold Coast, it's a good neighbour and we like going over and enjoying it. But we love Tweed - our little piece of paradise."

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The Member for Tweed Geoff Provest. Photo: SCOTT POWICK
The Member for Tweed Geoff Provest. Photo: SCOTT POWICK

Currumbin MP Laura Gerber rubbished relocating the border at all and instead wanted a local pass system implemented, or another speedy solution hashed out.

She said the border blockade was overly politicised and wanted the government to hold sweeping consultations with the border community.

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"Ultimately, what will help my community right now is if locals had a dedicated pass for locals and a dedicated lane, an express lane for locals," she said.

"That could be implemented immediately. I think if that would happen that would ease the burden on the border immediately.

"I think we need to stop turning this border political. This is really impacting locals' lives."

Currumbin MP Laura Gerber. Picture: Luke Mortimer
Currumbin MP Laura Gerber. Picture: Luke Mortimer

Mudgeeraba MP Ros Bates outlined the LNP's position: "Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to stop the nitpicking and petty fights with New South Wales."

"The southern Gold Coast is one connected community separated by a line on a map - but now it's a police blockade and border wall.

"These are Queenslanders who are just trying to go about their daily lives - dropping their kids to school, and going to work.

"There can be checkpoints without congestion and chaos. It should be a streamlined process to make it easier for people who live in the area and for people to cross the border safely."

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, believing property prices and the tourism economy would skyrocket in the Tweed as a result of joining the Gold Coast, said the idea of relocating the troublesome border line 7km south seemed like a "no-brainer" - "a solution that would move the congestion out of the centre of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta and allow the border community to move freely".

Shadow Minister Health and Ambulance Services Ros Bates speaking in parliament. Pics Tara Croser.
Shadow Minister Health and Ambulance Services Ros Bates speaking in parliament. Pics Tara Croser.

Gold Coast Senator Murray Watt said Ms Berejiklian's response to move the border north further into the Gold Coast didn't make sense.

"It's just not realistic to move the Queensland border north. The whole point of moving the border would be to remove checkpoints from a highly populated area, where you have lots of cross-border trade," Mr Watt said.

"That problem would only become worse if you moved it further north.

"I'm not going to buy into the permanent (border) move. I'm thinking about what we need short term to get through this problem.

"I would have thought moving checkpoints south is the most sensible move and one that would inconvenience the least people."

 

 

Senators Murray Watt. Picture: Matt Taylor.
Senators Murray Watt. Picture: Matt Taylor.

 

Traffic queues from NSW into Queensland have at times during the past week stretched for kilometres and involved motorists waiting for two hours or more although a new windscreen border pass with a giant expiry date and army reinforcements for police patrolling checkpoints has cut wait times to 45 minutes on the weekend and 23 minutes on Monday.

On Monday, Queensland had one new coronavirus case, the first in nearly a week, bringing the active number of cases in the state to two.

In total, 1060 COVID-19 patients across Queensland have recovered and six have died.

The worrying spread of the virus continues in Victoria, where 275 new cases were recorded on Monday.

Originally published as 'Totally opposed': Tweed slams push to shift border



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