“The border cannot move and should not move because there’ll be unintended consequences that’ll have worse and more adverse outcomes for the broader part of the Northern Rivers area.”
Ms Cherry disagreed, saying that while more than 16,000 people would usually cross the border for various reasons every day and were currently prevented from doing so, only about 1800 people would be similarly affected if the border were moved to the shire’s southern end.
The community of Coolangatta-Tweed Heads, which straddles the border, has been split since early 2020, when hard borders went up.
The current border restrictions put in place by Queensland are the most onerous since the start of the pandemic, however, with a very small list of essential workers allowed to cross the border for work only, and everyone else, including teachers and clinic workers, forced to stay on their side of the line.
Anyone from Queensland who enters the Tweed Shire has to maintain NSW’s lockdown restrictions even when they return to Queensland.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the measures were necessary because virus cases were getting “closer and closer” to the border.
“Eventually it will cross [the border], and our best defence for that is to get vaccinated,” Dr Young said.
Frustration over the border measures has been credited in part for the anger expressed in protests on both sides of the border on Sunday.
Although the protests were part of a larger national anti-lockdown movement, Ms Cherry said many of the protesters were simply at their wits’ end over the ongoing local disruption.
The mayor stressed she was still a Blues supporter and had no greater drive to make the Tweed part of Queensland permanently, but said for the time being, it made more sense to throw in with Queensland over NSW.
“Hopefully both governments, rather than laying accusations of blame about what people should or shouldn’t do, let’s just look at those protests as a cry for help, and then answer that call with a solution,” she said.