The drivers parked their trucks on the southbound lanes of the M1 Motorway near Exit 86 around Reedy Creek in a “freedom of choice” protest that caused kilometre-long traffic queues.
The inter-state protesters, who began a rolling convoy from a nearby service station around 6am, disbanded the protest and began moving south around 7:15am when police brought tow trucks in to forcibly remove the trucks and ordered the drivers out of the state.
The truck drivers’ protest followed repeat protests at the border on Sunday over the NSW lockdown, strict rules for entering Queensland, and the nationwide push for vaccinations, that saw a 39-year-old man arrested for allegedly punching a police officer in the face.
Gold Coast police acting Chief Superintendent Rhys Wildman said police were seeking to lay charges against the truck drivers today.
“This is a really small proportion of drivers. They’ve got a particular viewpoint, a particular message, and as we saw in protests over the past couple of weekends that is not the general viewpoint if the wider population,” Wildman told ABC Gold Coast.
“In fact, the message they are portraying around heavy vehicles and the requirement for them to be vaccinated isn’t even correct…so, little bit confused as to exactly what their messaging is all about.”
According to the National Heavy Vehicle register, essential freight and logistics operators can enter Queensland using a Freight Pass (F pass) and are not required to show evidence of having at least one Covid jab if they are compliant with the current testing regime.
However, they must adhere to the testing requirements of a negative Covid test not more than 7 days old and a rolling testing regime of every 7 days if coming from a hotspot.
Queensland Trucking Association CEO Gary Mahon said the majority of truck drivers distanced themselves for the protest that he feared was orchestrated by anti-vaxxers.
“We’re not sure how involved an anti-vax movement might be involved in all of this, but it’s generally a push about being resistant to vaccination for the course of their work,” Mahon said.
“We absolutely do not support this type of action. We are a professional association and if we have got issues with decisions the government might make, we take them forward professionally and advocate our cause. We don’t endorse this sort of action at all.”
One truck driver named Brock, who did not give his surname, says the drivers are protesting the Queensland government’s health orders which only allow essential workers to enter from NSW if they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“End all lockdowns, people go back to work and kids go back to school,” he told Nine’s Today show.
“That’s what we want out of it, we’ve had enough of it.
“We’ve had a lot the support mate, the people that showed up today is amazing, we appreciate everyone that’s come down.”
News footage showed federal One Nation senator Pauline Hanson and her advisor James Ashby at the protest.
The Gold Coast demonstration comes one day ahead of a planned national protest by truck drivers against a vaccine mandate for drivers from 12 local government areas in Sydney.
Under NSW rules in place from 6 September, authorised workers from Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield, and some suburbs of Penrith cannot leave their local area unless they have received one dose of the vaccine. Around the country, truck drivers must be tested every few days.
It also comes after protests erupted again at Coolangatta on Sunday, but with a fraction of the crowd who rallied against Covid-19 restrictions the previous weekend.
Wildman said he was “disgusted” at the actions of around 100 protesters, including the man who was charged with serious assault after he allegedly punched a sergeant from Brisbane’s tactical crime squad who had travelled to the Gold Coast to assist police handle the protest.
The 39-year-old man will appear in Southport magistrates Court today. Two other protesters, understood to have breached restrictions and border-hopped into Queensland, were arrested and investigations are continuing.
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