Distinguished lawyer says Queensland border controls ‘merely a fig leaf’ and troublesome to police throughout COVID-19

Prominent lawyer says Queensland border controls 'merely a fig leaf' and difficult to police during COVID-19

A prominent Gold Coast lawyer is concerned Queensland’s new border controls are ‘merely a fig leaf’ that will be difficult to police.

Key points:

  • Lawyer Bill Potts says he has significant doubts about the effectiveness of new border checks
  • Police say they have sufficient resources to manage check points
  • Queensland Police Union fears the new system will break the budget

From July 10, interstate residents will have to apply for a new declaration pass for entry into Queensland, proving they haven’t been to Victoria in the previous fortnight.

But former Queensland Law Society President Bill Potts said he had serious doubts about the effectiveness of the plan.

“The reality is we are seeing a government making laws with good intentions, on the run,” Mr Potts said.

“The simple reality is there might be simply too much order but not enough law to back it up.”

Travellers from Victoria who do arrive in Queensland will have to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine at their own expense.

“It’s merely a fig leaf of those intentions without the real back up, without the real capacity for these laws to even be enforced.”

The online declaration form needs to be signed and anyone caught lying can be fined up to $4000.

“Will they be going into Victoria to find out whether people have actually been there?” Mr Potts said.

“Are there going to be massive police resources interrogating people?

Police say allow extra travel time

Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said the current border pass will be replaced with a declaration entry pass.(ABC Gold Coast: Jen Huxley)

Queensland Police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said Gold Coast police have requested additional resources to help at check points.

He expected the new declaration would be similar to the current border pass, displayed on car windscreens.

“We’ve got sufficient resources,” he said.

“At the moment there is a border entry pass, we anticipate that will be replaced by the declaration system and that process is being worked through now,” Chief Supt Wheeler said.

“We are reviewing all of those checkpoints. We are reviewing the structures we have in place down there.”

“We’ll have a really robust system to make sure that people who fill those declarations out are being truthful and we’ll have the ability to follow that up as well,” he said.

‘We’ll probably blow our budget’

A sign with an arrow to NSW and an arrow to Qld.Traffic control signs at Coolangatta(ABC Gold Coast: Cathy Border)

The Queensland Police Union President Ian Leavers said enforcing the border checks would be necessary, but costly.

“This is really resource intensive,” Mr Leavers said.

“It’s going to take it’s toll on Queensland police and our budget, we’ll probably blow our budget well and truly.”

“But we will save many lives and hopefully we can save many industries and small businesses which keep this country going,” he said.

“We cannot let what has happened in Victoria get into Queensland.”

Mr Leavers said there would be teething problems but said police would make the new border check work.

“We are very resourceful and we are committed to making it work,” he said.

Traffic ‘likely’ to get worse

Police walk alongside traffic on a Queensland highway.Police monitor traffic at Queensland’s southern border.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

RACQ spokesperson Lauren Ritchie said the motoring body wasn’t consulted about the new system and traffic could get worse during the initial stages.

“We just don’t know. But it’s likely that it will (get worse), ” Ms Ritchie said.

“It is about being being patient. This is a reality that we are in and it’s about safety at the core of it.”

“So unfortunately it’s like any other traffic jam we anticipate at long weekends or school holidays. It’s about packing your patience and understanding – this is a necessity,” she said.