By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
As the COVID-19 crisis carries on, so too does it continue to cultivate fertile ground for all kinds of crazy behaviour.
From toilet paper pandemonium to pooing in the shopping aisle, drinking cow urine to cure the virus to wielding broken wine bottles at customers, even educating pets on social-distancing, for many of us, the pandemic has undoubtedly invigorated the wacky gene.
But now, as states and territories around the nation close their borders in an attempt to contain the virus, for some of us, it seems COVID-19 is testing levels of stupidity.
In the latest episode, a 41-year-old NSW man was fined $4003 after he was discovered hiding in the boot of a car at the Queensland border.
According to a statement released by Queensland Police, the surprising encounter occurred around 6:45pm on 21 July 2020 when officers stopped a white Mitsubishi hatchback on Border Street at Wallangarra, in the Southern Downs region.
While conducting a search of the vehicle, officers made a shock finding of a man squeezed into the boot.
Curled up tight, the NSW man was greeted by the bemused police officer who laughed and said, “Well hello buddy”.
“Stay where you are,” he continued, before asking, “Why were you trying to sneak across mate?”
The man was fined $4,003 for attempting to enter Queensland without a Border Declaration Pass – a stark breach of the Queensland COVID-19 Border Direction.
He was sent back to NSW, leaving Queensland Police reinforcing its commitment to ensuring everyone complies with public health directions and asserting their continued implementation of restrictions at the border.
They noted vehicles would continue to be intercepted at random where police would verify declarations with identification, emphasising that any false information provided on the declaration or entering Queensland unlawfully could result in a $4,003 fine.
Southern Downs Mayor Credits “Better” Beer and Football Players in Queensland for Bizarre Border-Crossing Behaviour
At the time the car was searched, two women, aged 28 and 29, were also in the vehicle.
All three people were denied entry to Queensland.
Speaking of the incident, Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi advised, “If you can’t get in through the right way, then don’t try the back way”.
“I’m mayor of a region of more than 66,000 people and I don’t want one person to get sick because someone’s cheating.
“We don’t want a second spike like there has been in other states.”
Meanwhile, in a lighter response, the Southern Downs mayor attributed the bizarre border-crossing behaviour to “better” beer and football players in the state
Our beer is better without a doubt, and so are our football players, so I can see why people want to come here,” Mr Pennisi said.
“But this is not about an individual, this is about our nation.
“We need to do what is right for all of us and I hope everyone pays heed to this.”
New border restrictions came into place on 3 July 2020 and required anyone travelling to Queensland to complete a border declaration pass, which was valid for seven days.
Since then, however, in an attempt to contain the virus, Queensland borders have been closed to all NSW residents.
Social Media Responds to Man Travelling in Boot of Vehicle
Unsurprisingly, as news spread of the man’s senseless attempt to cross the Queensland border in the boot of the vehicle, social media was quick to react.
In a post that exposed police bodycam footage of the incident, uploaded to the 9 News Sydney Facebook page, many remarked in disapproval.
“Should have just left him in the boot, locked the car and walked away,” wrote one user.
“With so many people trying to get over the border fine should be 10k,” another stated.
One user captured the disbelief over the incident by simply saying, “Wtf people wtf”.
While the thought of travelling in or on the boot of a motor vehicle may seem appealing (to a very, very small section of the population), we hate to advise that in NSW, it is actually illegal to carry passengers in a part of a vehicle not designed for carrying passengers.
Put simply, this means you cannot travel in or on the boot of a wagon, van or ute.
Other than the new border restriction rules, In NSW, rule 268-2 of the Road Rules 2014 (NSW) prohibits you from travelling in or on the boot of a motor vehicle that is not designed primarily for the carriage of passenger or goods. Breaching this road rule carries up to $2,200 fine. The same maximum penalty applies to a driver who drives a motor vehicle while a person is in or on the boot of the vehicle.
The above penalties applies if the matter is dealt with by a court. However, such matters are usually dealt with by way of issuing an on-the-spot fine of $344. If the driver commits this offence, then $344 fine also accompanies with it 3-demerit points- unless the penalty notice is court elected and the court imposes a section 10 non-conviction or a verdict of ‘not guilty’.
It should be noted that this rule does not apply to a person who is in or on a police or emergency vehicle, or on a motor bike, or engaged in the door-to-door delivery or collection of goods, or in the collection of waste or garbage, in or on a motor vehicle that is not travelling over 25 kilometres per hour.