Revealed: Massive number of police diverted to border
ABOUT 1300 police have worked off a 28-day roster to provide around-the-clock protection on the Queensland-NSW border since COVID-19 surfaced, state parliament has been told.
Southport MP Rob Molhoek asked police chiefs to drill down on the figures previously not available.
"What impact has border control had on all the other (policing) issues?" Mr Molhoek asked.
"Obviously that has had a huge drain on resources. How many police have been taken off, say, the road policing unit and weapons licensing to support border control activities?"
Deputy Commissioner Stephan Gollschewski told the public hearing staged by the parliamentary health committee that the police response, at its peak, saw between 1200 and 1300 officers per 28-day roster.
"Unlike other agencies, obviously we are a 24/7 agency, particularly when doing things like border control and quarantine containment. Across that whole 24/7 process, we would use up to that (number)," he said.
Police border staffing numbers had dropped to under 900 and in past weeks settled at 600.
Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski admitted "we have shared the pain" across the service bringing in staff from all areas and the academy. A COVID command was created.
"I will not deny that it has been a challenge for us as an organisation," he said.
Mr Molhoek asked, with the extension of these powers for another six months, when police resources would return to normal.
Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski told the hearing: "I think 'normal' is an interesting word. There is probably a new normal in all of this. We are a community safety agency. Above and beyond anything else, we want to keep our community safe."
He said COVID remained a threat and the policing around it occurred without compromising other aspects of community safety.
"Our COVID command very much has a planning approach that we expect will perhaps need some sort of response into next year. We hope that it is sooner than that, but we are being realists in planning that this is a long haul and that we are able to do it properly," he said.
Police had been involved in processing 848,236 passengers subject to checks of entry requirements and refused 1348 passengers' entry into Queensland, directing 36,754 into quarantine.
"We have intercepted 1,182,498 vehicles at our road borders, turned around 14,417, which included 22,970 persons in those vehicles, and directed 19,432 into quarantine at the road borders." the Deputy Commissioner said.
Gold Coast Chamber of Hall president Martin Hall told the hearing the government must consult more with businesses as smaller operators lost confidence about an economic recovery.
"The latest three-day lockdown had some serious consequences," he said. "Whilst the Gold Coast was not included directly within the Brisbane lockdown, the Coast did feel the economic impact of an immediate cessation of normal holiday trade.
"In fact, a large shopping centre at the southern end of our region has seen a double-digit decrease year to date in foot traffic."
The chamber wants "genuine consultation" outlining clearly what could be expected from a three, five or 10-day lockdown and the potential economic cost and economic losses.
"The last lockdown gave no capacity for businesses to plan day four. For example, a local pie shop did not know how much stock to have delivered and a local bar did not know how many staff to roster," Mr Hall said.
Originally published as Revealed: Massive number of police diverted to border