If you’re heading to Queensland, don’t lie on your border declaration forms about where you’ve been previously.
That’s the message from the state government as it implements harsh new penalties for people who enter Queensland after failing to disclose that they have been in areas designated as COVID-19 hotspots.
This comes after six people were fined in excess of $24 000 for lying on their border declaration forms over the weekend.
Penalties passed through parliament on Thursday
The new penalties passed by the Queensland Parliament allow for jail time of up to six months for serious breaches of the regulations.
Fines have also been increased and individuals or businesses found not to be making proper disclosure can be fined more than $13 000.
“We take the health of Queenslanders very seriously and our public health directions are in place to limit any potential spread of COVID-19,” Health Minister Steven Miles said.
“Queenslanders are working hard in following restrictions and health advice. We don’t want to see all our hard work undone and we are very serious about enforcing our public health directions.”
Miles said the tough new penalties were meant to emphasise the importance of complying with public health directions and not providing false or misleading information on their border declaration pass.
Queensland Council for Civil Liberties voices concern
The penalties passed through state parliament despite some concerns voiced by the civil liberties fraternity.
According to Seven News, Queensland Council for Civil Liberties vice-president, Terry Gorman, wrote to the health minister on Wednesday requesting the government consult the Queensland Law Society or the Bar Association first.
“The proposed further COVID-19 legislation containing prison terms of up to six months represents a significant increase in penalties and in that regard the proposed legislation should have been the subject of public consultation,” he wrote.
“There has been no consultation with this Council and, so far as I am aware, no consultation with other stakeholders such as the Queensland Law Society or the Bar Association.”