Northern Territory Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker says 16,000 people have crossed into the Territory since the NT reopened its borders on July 17, and nearly 400 people are now in mandatory supervised quarantine.
- The Government says NT Police will stay on the borders “indefinitely”
- The NT Government promised 131 additional police to aid the COVID-19 response
- Police say enforcing coronavirus restrictions is costing $2 million a month
Anyone who enters the NT from a coronavirus hotspot — which includes Port Stephens, the Eurobodalla Shire, Victoria and Greater Sydney — must undergo two weeks of supervised quarantine upon their arrival at a personal cost of $2,500.
Last week, two men were flown out of a remote Northern Territory town and placed in supervised quarantine after they “falsely declared” they had not been in a designated coronavirus hotspot.
Commissioner Chalker said in a separate incident there was another person who may have also misled police.
“There’s another individual that we’re currently looking at as well who has gone back into mandatory quarantine … we’re just gathering the further evidence to refer a charge,” he said.
$2 million in COVID-19 response
It is costing NT Police about $2 million a month to patrol the Territory’s borders and ensure people are complying with COVID-19 restrictions, Commissioner Chalker says.
“We’re probably doing that far more cost-effectively than most because we have the advantage of the Australian Federal Police cost not being worn by the Northern Territory Government,” he said.
This Friday, the number of AFP officers helping enforce the NT’s COVID-19 measures will be cut by more than half.
“At their peak, there was 102, they’re now going to reduce down to 30 by conclusion of business this Friday,” Commissioner Chalker said.
“That’s a transfer we need to pick up.”
Commissioner Chalker said Darwin watch house had closed to make sure there were enough officers tasked to the coronavirus response.
“We do need to prioritise our resource deployment,” he said.
“There’s a number of services that we have to diminish because of that.”
131 additional police promised
On Monday, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced additional police staff, including auxiliary and community liaison officers, to help patrol the NT’s borders.
The announcement includes 66 frontline constables, 30 Aboriginal Liaison Officers, 10 Aboriginal community police officers and 25 support staff.
And while the Northern Territory Police Association welcomed the announcement, its president Paul McCue is calling for a funding breakdown to make sure there is enough money for what is being promised by Government.
“The government must ensure our members have the staffing and resourcing to provide a sustainable, long-term policing model on our borders and to undertake monitoring and quarantine compliance duties while ensuring day-to-day policing is not adversely impacted,” Mr McCue said.
“Border locations must also have an appropriate infrastructure investment, to cater for this new long-term policing function.”
Mr Gunner said police would remain on the border “indefinitely”.