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Troops make way for boys in blue as border bubble pressure grows

Politics

Army personnel have begun leaving the Queensland border today, as extra police move in to deal with expected traffic and crossing delays when residents of an extra 41 postcodes in northern NSW are allowed into Queensland under the expansion of the border bubble.

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Gold Coast Police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said long delays were likely across the long weekend when Queensland reopens to the Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley, and Glen Innes shires from 1am Thursday.

Queensland will also remove the northern boundary of the border zone entirely from Thursday, meaning residents of approved areas can access the entire state and all Queenslanders are free to travel to the southern edge of the bubble.

“We now have a larger group of people who are eligible to come into the state. We also have over 5 million Queenslanders who can go now into NSW and return, so that’s going to mean more traffic and there will be some delays,” Wheeler said.

The 15 extra police, who will come from outside the Gold Coast district, will replace 58 defence personnel. The extra police, one quarter of the defence number they are replacing, will be spread across border checkpoints.

“We will be monitoring it (each checkpoint) on an hourly basis and if we need to move police across to a busier one we will,” Wheeler said.

“People will need to expect delays particularly as it’s a long weekend and more people will be wanting to come into Queensland and we’ll see Queenslanders going interstate and wanting to come back – people just need to plan their journeys accordingly and understand that these borders controls are in for a very good reason.”

Queensland had asked the Federal Government to keep troops on the border until 19 October, but the request was rejected. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk accused the Morrison Government of singling Queensland out because of the upcoming election when the request for extended ADF support was denied.

The Premier said the border bubble expansion would support people and businesses in the border communities.

It means residents from the designated postcodes in Byron Shire, Ballina Shire, City of Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes Severn Shire, will be allowed to travel for work or recreational purposes as long as they fill out a border pass and have not been in a COVD hotspot in the past 14 days.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the border zone expansion was part of Queensland Health’s end-of-month assessment of COVID-19 protection measures.

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