Redland City Mayor Karen Williams has cracked down on people trying to get around a COVID-19 travel ban after about 300 people applied to change the address on their drivers licence to North Stradbroke Island on the eve of the Easter long weekend.
Cr Williams wrote to Transport Minister Mark Bailey asking him to close the loophole which was being exploited to get around a travel ban to the idyllic south-east Queensland island.
The Queensland government had last Thursday banned all travel to Straddie, Moreton and Fraser islands in a bid to keep a lid on COVID-19 pandemic infections.
The exceptions were island residents, workers and people with special permits.
Straddie is often referred to as an "old money" vacation site in Brisbane upper crust social circles. It also is known as a Labor holiday hotspot, with luminaries like the family of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and former premier Anna Bligh and many of their ministers holidaying there.
Cr Williams became aware of the rush to change licence addresses at a Redland City Local Disaster Management Group meeting.
While some licence applications were expected to be genuine, the assumption was that many were from people who lived at mainland sites like Brisbane but owned houses or units on the island.
Many of the holiday homes sell for millions on the island, whose beaches and views are often voted as among the best in Australia.
With a Straddie address on their licence, it would allow ownners to travel freely between the island and mainland, including the Easter long weekend.
Cr Williams said while some might be genuine, with so many in just over a week it was clear some people were trying to find a loophole by claiming they permanently lived on the island.
"People may think they are finding a way around the system, but they are only finding ways to put others at risk and so I have asked the minister to temporarily put on hold any applications to change drivers licence addresses to North Stradbroke Island," she said.
Cr Williams said the disaster management group had asked that non-essential travel be banned to all Redland islands, which includes North Stradbroke, in recognition of the aged communities on those islands.
"This travel ban is necessary to protect the vulnerable community and I would ask people to respect that, including our other islands where there is currently no travel ban but equally vulnerable communities," she said. "I have been contacted by a number of people who have holiday homes on islands asking if they can travel over there for Easter.
"The answer is no and now it seems some are trying to game the system to get the answer they want.
"I realise this travel ban will be inconvenient for those with holiday homes on the island, but right now the health of the community must take priority of the recreation of some and I make no apology for that."