I had heard a lot and read a lot about the heavy handed tactics of the police in Victoria during this covid madness. Most (if not all) of it has been in Melbourne. During our holidays we had our own ‘brush with the law’ when Victoria state police pulled us over. As promised in earlier posts, here it is…
Bridge over the River Murray
Hardly Bridge over the River Kwai is it? But then again…
We thought it was a good idea to cross a bridge over the Murray river as that is where most of the boat hire businesses were. The river is basically the “border” between the states of New South Wales and Victoria. The southern side of the river being the borderline, I think, which means that the river itself is in NSW. Not 100% sure on that one but whatever…
The bridge is only wide enough for one line of traffic and is controlled by traffic lights. After crossing there is a sign saying “Welcome to Victoria”. Not an accurate choice of words but then the sign was there before the insanity of 2020. That said, they have recently put up enough covid signs they could equally make a few changes to such “Welcome” signs couldn’t they?
Just past the “welcome” sign we saw the police border control point. So, naturally did a U-turn and headed back about 20 metres where we had to stop at the red traffic light. Before the traffic lights could change there was a police car behind us flashing its lights. One of the cops got out and asked me to pull over to a dirt track junction just after the lights.
They asked all the questions you might expect including asking for IDs. Then they walked off for a mini conference. They came back and asked for Australian IDs which we told them we didn’t have but they should be able to verify our visa status etc… I should have known better…
They were clearly out of their depth. Through no fault of their own I hasten to add. They have been asked to police their state border line with zero training, no back-up and with insufficient access to the necessary data (even if that data is available). It may as well have been the Keystone Cops. Imagine a border force at an international airport or shipping port not having access to all the right databases! This so called “border” was inland (same country of course just a state line) and in the middle of nowhere! Then I had a thought. No. Not that we might be arrested. I just thought: ‘Oh good grief! This is going to take some time.’
Then a huge Mack truck road train came along behind and the cops had to move their cars to let it get access to the main road and cross the bridge. They pulled up in front of our car. It was getting comical. The oldest looking of the cops approached.
“Why did you try to enter Victoria?”
“To rent a boat.”
“Don’t you know you need a permit?”
“Maybe. But that is why we came to see. Then we turned around.”
“Don’t you watch the News?”
“No.” (He looked confused). “Well what’s the point They are changing the rules daily almost hourly aren’t they? What good would watching the news do me? We were here so we had a look. Saw your border control point and obviously thought the permit is still required. So we turned around.”
He walked off to join the other cops looking over our IDs.
And Then There Were Five
The next thing a third car turned up. An unmarked car with its hidden police lights flashing. One of them sneaky bastards who follows you on the highway waiting for you to go over the speed limit then puts his blue lights on. Out gets cop number five.
I was hoping that Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen would turn up and make it the Magnificent Seven. But no luck there. Not yet at least. Anyway those great actors died some years ago. Definitely not of covid.
Cop number 5 comes up to the car holding an iPad of all things, as if that made him more official looking. He did seem to outrank cops 1 – 4 however but then he spoke…
“Have you got some ID?”
“What? Why not?”
“Because your mate over there took it about 15 minutes ago and still has it.”
“Oh. OK. I’ll just be a minute” (walks off)
“That’s funny. That’s what he said 15 minutes ago. And he still hasn’t come back”
Within a couple of minutes cop 5 (iPad cop) came back and repeated a few questions we had already been asked. I noticed he had been tapping away at his touchscreen device so I asked if he had access to a national database. That way they should surely be able to find out our visa status.
No, they hadn’t.
“So what are you doing (typing on that iPad)” I asked him. I got no reply. They were just Victoria police not federal police. Yeah but… I was about to ask something then I just thought; what’s the point? They clearly can’t call their office and get someone online to some national database which would have everything they needed. I thought; well yes, this could take some time then eh?
The Non-Magnificent Seven!?
By now Dani’s mum was getting agitated. She got out of the car and sure enough one of the cops approached her. I thought to tell her to get back inside but he didn’t. She then started asking him a few tricky questions (for a cop) like what’s the problem? We are going back over and now you have stopped us. I think there was a “don’t you think this is stupid?” thrown in too. Much to my own and Dani’s amusement. We were enjoying it. Although it could have got out of hand it didn’t. It turned out that all the fuss and communications had been just trying to verify our IDs.
One of the younger cops came back on Dani’s mum’s side and tapped the window. Can I see some ID please? She handed him her Spanish ID card. He looked at it and his eyes widened. I could tell what he was doing. He flipped it over scanning it for something in English. No joy there mate. Then he walked off behind us.
By now another car had joined the fun. Two more Victorian cops. Seven! None of them really had a clue what to do it seemed. But they were apparently trying to verify our IDs. Two on radios, two on mobile phones. Yet, as it turned out, no support on the other end of any of those four calls.
Here’s the thing…
Now then. The law (i.e. those recently made up on the spur of a knee jerk reaction moment due to “covid”) actually stated that if you attempt to cross the border into Victoria without a valid permit then you will be turned back. Nothing major, just as simple as that. ‘Sorry sir no permit, no entry. Please back up and go back over that way’ (or words to that effect). Dani’s mum found it online at the time. We hadn’t even tried to cross. We saw they were looking for permits (still) decided to turn back (ourselves) and on our way. There should not have been any issue whatsoever. But then that is not factoring in cops without the necessary training in border control nor access to the required databases.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Ah, now maybe that was it… Hmm….
Finally the two cops that seemed to be in charge (in as much as any of them knew what they were even supposed to be doing), both told me that I wasn’t under arrest. Oh really! No shit Sherlock! Of course not. I hadn’t done anything wrong. Which I kindly pointed out to them. They made a half-hearted attempt to explain that in fact I had… then kind of gave up. Even they were bored by now. And so we went back across the bridge. Back to the safety and sanctity of a comparatively sane New South Wales.
What a complete waste of everyone’s time and tax-payer’s money.