Palm Island police have arrested and charged five men with breaches of the Biosecurity Act (Cwlth) and Chief Health Officer (CHO) Queensland Direction.
On March 26, a determination was made under the Biosecurity Act restricting non-essential travel to designated remote communities, which included the community of Palm Island.
On March 29, the CHO issued a direction regarding home confinement, movement and gatherings. The direction stated that persons were prohibited from leaving their residence, except for permitted purposes.
Both of these restrictions were well known to residents on Palm Island as it directly affected the ability of residents to travel to and from the island.
Notices from the Local Disaster Management Group regarding restrictions were delivered to all houses in late March, and details were also displayed locally and on community and council social media pages.
Police will allege that five men departed Palm Island in a private dingy on March 30 and travelled to Townsville.
Townsville police spoke to the men and advised them that in accordance with the Biosecurity Act and the CHO direction, they were not permitted to return to Palm Island.
Police will allege all five men were located on Palm Island on April 3.
Three men aged 19 and two men aged 30 and 46 have been arrested and charged with one count each of failing to comply with an emergency requirement – (Biosecurity Act (Cwth) S 479(3)) and failing to comply with COVID-19 public health direction CHO (Public Health Act, QLD S326D).
One of the 19-year-old men was also charged with possessing dangerous drugs exceeding schedule 1 (amphetamine), possessing dangerous drugs (cannabis) and two counts of supplying dangerous drugs (methamphetamines and cannabis).
The 30-year-old man was also charged with possession of cannabis.
All five men have been denied police bail and are due to appear in the Townsville Magistrates Court tomorrow.
Townsville District Disaster Coordinator, Acting Chief Superintendent Glen Pointing said this sort of behaviour is extremely disappointing.
“The reckless actions of a few have placed the remainder of the Palm Island community at risk.
“It is even more disappointing given the great work undertaken by the Palm Island Council and broader community in putting measures in place to ensure their island is protected.”