Queensland braces for southern stampede ahead of borders reopening to interstate travellers

Queensland, get ready for a southern stampede.

Travellers are massing at the borders, champing at the bit to enjoy some warmer winter weather.

From midday today, the dusty welcome mat is back out for our interstate friends, after 15 long weeks of self-imposed quarantine.

Well, almost everyone. Sorry Victoria.

If you are from the Garden State or from interstate who travelled to Victoria in the past fortnight — unless you have a rare exemption — you’ll be turned around.

Simple as that.

So who can come?

Anyone from NSW, WA, SA, Tasmania, the ACT and NT — unless you have been in Victoria in the past 14 days.

You must complete a Queensland border declaration form — that goes for every single person in the vehicle, including children.

The form lasts seven days, so if you are staying longer, you need to renew it online.

You must provide any necessary documentation to prove you have not been in Victoria over the past 14 days.

You must agree to get tested if they experience any COVID-19 symptoms and you will receive SMS reminders. There will be extra pop-up clinics at strategic locations across the state.

The welcome mat is back out for our interstate friends — except Victoria.(ABC News: Jennifer Huxley)

Queenslanders, take note:

You also need a signed border declaration pass to cross the border.

If you’ve been to Victoria in the past 14 days, you will still be allowed in, but you’ll have to go into mandatory quarantine at your own expense.

It’s a welcome that comes with a stern warning.

Anyone caught lying, get ready to cough up a fine of $4,004 or a court-imposed penalty of up to $13,345.

If I’m entering by road:

If you’re coming by road, a word of advice: plan ahead, display your border pass in the vehicle, expect lengthy delays and pack a suitcase full of patience.

Because as Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk repeatedly warned this week, there will be delays.

“I said that yesterday and I’ll say again today, there will be delays at our borders, because we are going to get this right,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“I’m telling the public now, there will be lengthy delays.”

Adding to the traffic congestion, this weekend marks the end of school holidays in Queensland, so many more families will be returning home for the start of term three.

Queensland police officer directs motorists at a border checkpoint on the Queensland-NSW border.
Motorists trying to cross the border should expect lengthy delays and pack a suitcase full of patience.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

Did we mention delays?

Queensland police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said 238,000 border declaration passes had been filled out.

Given they only last seven days, it is easy to see why there will be pressure on the system.

“That indicates to us that over 238,000 are intending to come to Queensland in the next week,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

“That will mean that we will see congestion and delays, so please be patient with us and we’ll work through it.

“We can only process so many vehicles and so many people at any given time.”

The Tweed border will be the most heavily congested, so here are the checkpoints:

Police controlled vehicle checkpoints:

  • Griffith Street and Stuart Street
  • Gold Coast Highway and Coolangatta Road
  • M1 northbound at Stewarts Road
  • Nerang Murwillumbah Road, Natural Bridge will have a QPS controlled border pass system between 7:00am to 7:00pm each day and 24-hour access to emergency vehicles
  • Miles Street will be restricted access to local border residents only
Police monitor traffic into the Gold Coast in south-east Queensland at the NSW border.
Police monitor traffic into the Gold Coast from NSW on July 2.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Hard closures:

  • Boundary Street and Clarke Street
  • Dixon Street and Bay Street
  • Dixon Street and Florence Street
  • Leeward Terrace and Tooloon Street
  • Kent Street near Murraba Crescent
  • Tomewin Mountain Road, Currumbin Valley

What if I’m coming by air?

You also need to fill out a border declaration pass.

And if you’re refused permission to enter Queensland, you’ll have to wait at the airport for the next flight back to your home state or be quarantined until you leave.

“We have hotels right across the state, bearing in mind that we have airports that are reopening,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

“Each airport within regional Queensland is receiving flights and we don’t just look at flights out of Victoria, we look at transit flights as well.”

If you arrive at a Queensland airport from interstate before midday today, you will not be allowed to leave the airport.

Queensland Health was working with airlines to delay some flights while other passengers will be accommodated in a holding area until they are cleared.

Passengers travelling with exemptions will be able to be processed as normal.

What about exemptions?

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young receives hundreds of requests for exemption, but very few are granted.

Here are some exceptions regarding Victoria:

  • Essential health workers
  • People travelling on health, legal or compassionate grounds (attending funerals is not exempt, but visiting a dying relative is)
  • Truck drivers carrying freight, but they must renew their border pass every seven days

Where are all the travellers heading?

With an embarrassment of riches across the state’s big backyard, interstate travellers will not only swamp Queensland’s south-east, but are expected to go further afield.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) chief executive Daniel Gschwind said caravan parks just across the inland border were full of “grey nomads” waiting to resume their annual migration.

“They’re an important part of the outback economy [for] many towns from Barcaldine, Longreach, Winton, all the way to Mount Isa,” Mr Gschwind said.

Towns like Bourke and Lightning Ridge in western New South Wales had also been overwhelmed with travellers heading north to the Sunshine State.

Michael Dear and his family are among them. They are from Victoria but have been travelling in New South Wales for the past five weeks.

He said he was worried he could get refused entry at the border because of his Victorian number plate.

“I have no problem with them pulling me aside … we have all our receipts from all our accommodation,” he said.

“[But] if they are knocking people back saying, ‘Victorian number plate, no,’ … there’s going to be a nightmare.”

Man and woman sit on deck at sunset with beer and wine. A large glamping tent is behind them and small fire in front of them.
Interstate travellers will not only swamp Queensland’s south-east, but are expected to go further afield.(ABC Western Queensland: Nicole Bond)

Others are expected to take advantage of airfare deals further north to The Whitsundays and Cairns.

The state’s tourism industry, which usually reaps $1.5 billion every month through the domestic market, is desperately hoping to claw back some revenue.

“Those billions of dollars that are missing, they’re missing out of tens of thousands of business tills and they’re missing out of the pay packets of hundreds of thousands of staff, whose jobs and futures have been put at risk over the last few months,” Mr Gschwind said.

Heart reef - only 17 metres in diameter - seen from the air in a scenic flight.
Others are expected to take advantage of airfare deals further north to the Whitsundays and Cairns.(ABC: Elaine Ford)

“With tourism activity returning and communities seeing the visitors come back, that translates into a future being recreated for all those people.”

The loss of the Victorian market, which the QTIC said was usually worth 30 per cent of the interstate market at this time of year, is huge.

But with everyone else welcome back, it’s a start.

A row of caravans at a holiday park.
Caravan parks just across the inland border are full of “grey nomads” waiting to resume their annual migration.(ABC News: Tara Cassidy)

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the choice ahead of Lachie Hunter and the Bulldogs

The Western Bulldogs are set to welcome Lachie Hunter back into their 22 for the game against Carlton after serving his four-week suspension for breaching COVID-19 protocols.

Hunter has been charged with drink driving, careless driving and failing to give his name after a collision and will front the Melbourne Magistrates Court in November, over the alleged April incident.

Lachie Hunter could return in a different position.

Lachie Hunter could return in a different position.Credit:Getty Images

Both Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge and midfielder Jack Macrae have praised Hunter’s dedication during his four week suspension, with the coach saying he was “more than likely” to play next week.

“He’s probably more than likely to play, I’d say, based on today how he went … and we might be one or two down, injury wise,” Beveridge said after the Dogs’ win over North Melbourne.

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U.S. pushes ahead with Taliban peace deal

FILE – In this Feb. 29, 2020 file photo, U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group’s top political leader sign a peace agreement between Taliban and U.S. officials in Doha, Qatar. (AP Photo/Hussein Sayed,file)

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UPDATED 2:25 PM PT — Saturday, July 4, 2020

The U.S. envoy to Afghanistan has signaled Washington’s Taliban peace deal, which was signed in February, will now move forward. On Twitter, Zalmay Khalilzad revealed the status of the deal following his week-long tour, which included stops in Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Qatar where Taliban headquarters are located.

According to him, both the U.S. and the terrorist group have “agreed developing plans in support of peace can never start too early.”

Khalilzad added the peace deal will offer many economic benefits. He further suggested joint projects involving Qatar and Pakistan could involve trade and infrastructure.

FILE – In this March 1, 2020 file photo, supporters of Pakistani religious group rally to celebrate the signing agreement between United States and Taliban, in Quetta, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt,file)

The latest push for peace comes amid uncertainty about the Taliban. The New York Times recently reported Russia offered bounties to the group’s militants to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Democrats have called for immediate action to be taken in light of these reports.

“I don’t think there’s anybody on this podium who does not believe that the Russians remain involved in a negative way in Afghanistan,” stated  Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

However, both the White House and GOP lawmakers have denied the report. They have claimed the intelligence it cited has not been corroborated.

“What’s unfortunate is that we are having this discussion because of the New York Times deciding to run with this erroneous information about the president being briefed, which was not true,” stated Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. “The erroneous information that there was a conclusion, when in fact there was not a conclusion.”

FILE – In this April 9, 2019, file photo, Afghans watch a civilian vehicle burnt after being shot by U.S. forces following an attack near the Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

In the meantime, President Trump has stressed he wouldn’t be afraid to pull the Taliban peace agreement if the group breaks its promises.

“If bad things happen, we’ll go back,” he said. “We’ll go back so fast, we’ll go back with a force like nobody’s ever seen.”

Both the Taliban and Russia have denied the alleged bounties plot.

MORE NEWS: U.S., Taliban Say Afghan Peace Effort Discussed In Video Talks

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Hydro Tasmania subsidiary pushed ahead with dam project knowing of concerns

Hydro Tasmania’s consulting business pushed ahead with work on a northern Ugandan hydropower project despite acknowledging ongoing community concerns, reports of legal proceedings and corruption, technical issues, and poor workmanship, according to documents.

A worker also later died on-site in a shooting incident, according to a local police report.

Emails, briefing reports and screening summaries released to the Tasmanian Greens show Entura initially deemed the project “high risk”, but downgraded that to “medium” after a screening process, while acknowledging ongoing concerns with local community relations and environmental management.

Entura was contracted by PowerChina Huadong to provide advisory services for the Karuma hydropower project in March 2017.

Entura was effectively a sub-contractor on the project, managing a range of project stakeholders, undertaking design reviews and advising on compliance with international standards.

After questioning Hydro Tasmania in 2018 over reports of unsafe working conditions and a death at the site, Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff received partially-redacted documents showing Entura signed up to the project despite being aware of numerous issues.

“The obvious red flag is that Hydro Tasmania identified levels of community protest and outrage, they identified human rights issues, and they identified impacts on communities,” Dr Woodruff said.

Rosalie Woodruff says it appears Hydro did a number of assessments and went ahead regardless.(Facebook: Rosalie Woodruff)

One of the documents is an email discussing a potential site visit for two staff to the Karuma project in October 2016.

Eighteen Entura staff worked on the project for an average of 18 days each, between March 2017 and September 2019.

Five of those people worked at the construction site in Uganda, which was manned by security and defence force soldiers.

Risk downgraded after mitigation assessment

Entura conducted a sustainability screening process in November 2016, which initially rated the environmental and social risk of the project as “high”.

That means it included activities with “potential significant, diverse, irreversible and/or unprecedented adverse social and environmental risks and impacts” and/or “may, or has, raised significant concerns among potentially affected communities and individuals”.

It noted numerous reports of technical and governance issues, widely reported issues with construction, community concerns about lack of consultation and poor compensation, and reports of numerous legal proceedings.

As part of that project screening, Entura produced a “summary against sustainability code” document, which was a spreadsheet listing the risks, how they could be mitigated and what the residual risk would then be.

The document shows Entura downgraded the residual risk of the overall project after mitigation measures to “medium”.

A summary of the human rights issues, impact on communities and level of community outrage has been redacted but those elements are labelled “high risk”, even after mitigation.

Regarding how the community issues could be mitigated, the document states that Entura’s confined role in the project offers “limited scope to reduce community risk”.

The summary proposes the “high” risk of numerous technical issues could be downgraded to “medium” by ensuring “all designs reviewed by Entura were fit for purpose and met appropriate standards”.

After a site visit, comments were that onsite safety appeared to be adequate and the overall quality of the project was expected to be fit for purpose.

Before signing the contract with PowerChina, Entura also completed a sustainability screening of Uganda as a new market, rating it as “medium risk” and acknowledging the country had a poor record of human rights management.

“That sends a pretty strong signal to companies like PowerChina that regardless of what they do in countries, Entura is going to help them anyway.”

In a statement, an Entura spokesman said it screened all projects prior to signing agreements, and evaluated them against Hydro Tasmania’s sustainability code, which included social, environmental, economic and reputational criteria.

“Since November 2016, Entura has used additional criteria in its sustainability screening process,” the statement said.

Working relationship with PowerChina influenced decision to proceed

In an internal briefing report, Entura said it made the decision to proceed with the project for reasons including that the project was already in its third year of construction and that any social issues associated with resettlement had already occurred.

It said a site visit indicated no obvious safety concerns.

Entura logo
Tasmanian hydropower consulting company Entura downgraded the residual risk of the overall project after mitigation measures to “medium”.(entura.com.au)

Entura also listed the importance of its relationship with PowerChina as a reason for proceeding with consulting on the project.

In a statement, an Entura spokesman said the business had proceeded with the work in order to share the benefits of clean renewable energy with the developing world.

“We determined that while Entura’s involvement on the Karuma project was minor, within the limitations of our role, we had a positive influence on the project’s overall design, safety and sustainability,” the statement said.

Dr Woodruff said there was no justification for a public Tasmanian business to be involved in the Karuma project.

“But fundamentally, if it’s a dam that’s based on human rights abuses, legal fights with communities where land has been taken from them, and environmental issues, this is not something that Tasmanian people want their public money put towards.”

Entura unaware of 2018 shooting death

The documents released to the Greens include a police report into an incident in June 2018, where one worker died as a result of shots fired during a scuffle between workers and soldiers.

Group of people signing a deal.
PowerChina hired Entura to advise on the Karuma hydropower project.(Supplied: Entura)

In an internal briefing report from December 2018, Entura said the fatal incident occurred after its second-last visit to the site, and on the final visit in September 2018 there was no mention of the incident.

The report states that Entura was unaware of the shooting incident until Dr Woodruff raised the issue.

Entura had been informed about the death of another worker due to a hippopotamus attack outside the compound.

A spokesman said the business had also been made aware of a worker who took their own life.

There are some media reports of other deaths on site at the Karuma project, but these are not referenced in any of the information released by Entura.

The ABC has contacted PowerChina Huadong for comment.

Hydro Tasmania ‘obstructing our efforts’: Greens

The Greens sought access to correspondence regarding the Karuma hydropower project through Tasmania’s Right to Information Act (RTI) process in December 2018.

After some back and forth, Hydro Tasmania provided the partially redacted documents to Dr Woodruff in March 2019.

However, it later became apparent that the RTI response had not been issued by a delegated officer as required, and the Greens were therefore unable to progress their request for an Ombudsman’s review.

“Having a public entity obstructing the release of information in clear defiance of statutory deadlines is totally unacceptable.”

The Entura spokesman said Hydro Tasmania and Entura did not agree with Dr Woodruff’s characterisation, and had corrected the delegation error recently.

“[The operation has] also provided a process that actually speeds up the subsequent external review requested by Dr Woodruff,” he said.

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Atlantic City Boardwalk and Casinos Reopen Ahead of Holiday Weekend

Atlantic City welcomed guests back to several resorts on Friday, July 3, after partially reopening the day before. This video, shared by Mike Lopez, shows the moment Caesars Entertainment’s Regional President Ron Baumann and Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Sr. reopened the boardwalk Friday morning. The city’s casinos had been closed since March 16. “Today is an exciting day because we get to welcome back our team members and guests to Caesars, Harrah’s Resort and Bally’s and look forward to making new memories together,” Baumann said in a press release. “Our health and safety protocols are at the forefront of our signature brand of hospitality, while continuing to offer a fun and enjoyable experience for guests.” Restaurants at the resort were offering outdoor dining for guests, a first for the resort, Baumann said. The resorts are permitted to operate at 25 percent capacity and it is mandated that everyone on property wear a mask. Credit: AC Mike Lopez via Storyful

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American Flag Unfurled From Gatlinburg SkyBridge Ahead of Independence Day

American Flag Unfurled From Gatlinburg SkyBridge Ahead of Independence Day

A large American flag was hung from the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, ahead of the Fourth of July weekend. Gatlinburg SkyLift Park shared footage of the flag unfurling from the bridge on the night of Thursday, July 2. The park was also hosting a Fourth of July celebration on Saturday, giving guests the “best view in town” of fireworks bursting from the nearby Gatlinburg Space Needle. A limited number of tickets were available for the sold-out Independence Day celebration. The park’s website encourages guests to wear face masks on the SkyBridge, where “social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” Credit: Gatlinburg SkyLift Park/SkyBridge via Storyful

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Motor racing: No fans, just cows in campsites ahead of closed Austrian GP

Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 2, 2020 Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel walks on the track with team members wearing a protective face mask ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, as F1 resumes following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

July 2, 2020

By Leonhard Foeger

SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) – The signage outside the Red Bull Ring declares ‘Welcome Race Fans’ but none were to be seen on Wednesday as the Austrian circuit prepared for Formula One’s first Grand Prix without spectators.

Cows grazed in a field that normally serves as a crowded campsite near to the circuit, while workers carried out tasks around the track.

There were no tents, no fans and no curious bystanders other than some local cyclists going for a spin along the road outside.

A small thunderstorm broke in the evening over a deserted paddock stripped of the usual palatial motorhomes that the teams use to entertain guests and sponsors and to feed their staff in shifts.

None will be needed this weekend as the sport gets to grips with a ‘new normal’ following the COVID-19 epidemic that has forced a delay of more than 100 days for the season to get going.

Sunday will be the first time that Austria has hosted a season-opener and the race will also be the latest start date to a championship.

The 10 teams were flying in on charter planes to the private terminal at nearby Zeltweg airport, from where they went directly to isolation in hotels before the routine of transfers to and from the circuit.

Formula One will operate in ‘bubbles within bubbles’, the teams keeping apart from each other and the outside world and also working in various sub-groups to minimise the risk of contagion.

All tested negative for COVID before departure and will have to undergo tests every five days for the next three weeks with two back-to-back races in Austria followed by a trip to nearby Hungary.

The drivers will face the world’s media on Thursday via virtual news conferences, with all but a small contingent of permanently accredited reporters participating from afar.

(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis)

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Biden ahead of Trump in the polls despite concerns over his cognitive abilities

Sky News contributor Nicholas Reece says when a lot of Individuals might imagine Joe Biden has some problems with his mental faculties, there are a important variety who choose him to President Donald Trump.

According to a Rasmussen poll, 38 for every cent of voters consider Biden has dementia.

Nevertheless, a the latest YouGov poll has presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden main President Trump 47 to 39, whilst the President’s approval score sits at 41 for each cent.

Mr Reece reported 22 for every cent of American girls and 78 for every cent of African-Americans favor Joe Biden to Trump.

“This time I assume they are turning out to vote since they are fired up,” he explained to Sky Information host Paul Murray.

Image: AP

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Darwin supercars event to go ahead with thousands of spectators despite coronavirus spread in Victoria

The Darwin Triple Crown will be the first supercars event to go ahead with crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the Northern Territory government welcoming interstate visitors despite growing concerns about the spread of the virus in Victoria.

NT Major Events director Tim Watsford said organisers had settled on a capacity restriction of 4,500 fans per day at the Hidden Valley raceway as part of a COVID-19 safety plan with NT Government health authorities.

“We usually have up to 30,000 to 40,000 people through here over the weekend, so there’s a significant reduction in people that are allowed in,” he said.

The race will be held on August 8 and 9.

NT Tourism Minister Lauren Moss said she welcomed tourists wanting to travel for the event, which falls after local border restrictions lift on July 17.

“We welcome people coming here to experience the Territory, it is the safest place in the country, it is a beautiful place, and we know that events are a big driver for people to come and visit us,” she said.

She said those arriving from coronavirus hotspots would need to abide by NT government restrictions which include mandatory 14-day isolation.

“Obviously, if you are in a hotspot, there is the expectation that you will not travel to the Territory, or you will travel to the Territory and undertake quarantine, as per our guidelines, and that will be in place for some time,” she said.

“It’s not lost on us that this will be the first major event that goes ahead after COVID-19, and we want to make sure that not only is it really enjoyable for spectators, but that it’s safe for spectators too.”

Mr Watsford said organisers would ensure that racing teams coming from those hotspots also followed the rules around mandatory quarantine.

Lauren Moss and Tim Watsford have been both spruiking the race in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.(ABC News: Kate Ashton)

“We’ve got some work to do with teams identified in and around those hotspots, absolutely,” he said.

“The track has been set up effectively like a hub, so regardless if borders are open or not, the teams, from a pit-lane perspective, will be isolated from the Territorian public.”

He said the situation in Victoria was being monitored closely, but that he was confident teams from Victoria would do whatever they could to compete at the event, even if that meant going into quarantine.

But he added that the event could still be cancelled, depending on what happened with coronavirus in the NT or elsewhere.

“If there is an outbreak or something along those lines, we’ll monitor the situation closely to ensure [that] the safety of our spectators and staff and Territorians [is] first and foremost.”

There will be no concerts or support categories at this year’s event.

People who already purchased tickets will have priority to repurchase new tickets, with general sales to start later in the week.

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The Voice and 60 Minutes put Nine ahead (again)

Identical previous, identical old for Sunday evening, as Nine wins the evening with The Voice and 60 Minutes.

(Impression: Nine)

Sunday night redux — Nine wins, 7 loses, 10 does Okay, the ABC weak.

Seven loses in spite of acquiring a 322,000 lead in the 6pm to 7pm information fight with Nine, and a realistic 1.01 million viewers for Large Brother. 

7 News averaged 1.79 million. Nine News, 1.37 million, but The Voice averaged 1.205 million and 60 Minutes 912,000 and that is why Nine gained simply and Seven was still left nicely behind, once again. 

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