QUEENSLAND’s Deputy Premier has accused the Prime Minister of launching an ‘ongoing political attack’ after pulling Australian Defence Force personnel from the border checkpoints, just as they’re about to start getting busier.
Troops will stop manning the Gold Coast checkpoints from September 30, just hours before the ‘border bubble’ southern extension comes into effect.
When questioned about whether it was a political play from the federal government, Deputy Premier Steven Miles admitted he was disappointed by the decision.
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“There’s no secret that the Prime Minister doesn’t like our strong border protections but they have kept Queenslanders safe,” he said.
“I really don’t think the Defence Force should be used as a bargaining chip in what is an ongoing political attack from the Federal Government on the state government.
“Our policies have worked and they should back off.”
Minister Miles said it will make the job even more difficult for Queensland Police.
“It will mean extra work for our police,” he said.
“It will mean more shifts, more overtime, more police allocated to that task but they’ve done a fantastic job throughout.
“I’m sure they can handle this although it would be better, of course, if they could count on the ongoing support of the Defence Force.”
A small number of troops will continue working in Queensland but only to help out with hotel quarantine and contact tracing efforts.
“We do welcome the fact that they have committed Defence Force support to our hotel quarantine effort,” Minister Miles said.
“That will allow us to bring back more Aussies who are currently stuck overseas.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt denied the decision had anything to do with payback.
“This was the agreement that was reached in August,” Minister Hunt told The Today Show on Wednesday.
“There was always an agreement to the 30th of September.
“At that time it was always intended it would transition from being ADF and police to police.
The Queensland Police Union has urged the Prime Minister to look at extending their stay, arguing it will put too much pressure on officers and stretch their day to day resources far too think.