News Coronavirus Criminal probe into millionaire’s luxury yacht trip from Melbourne

Criminal probe into millionaire’s luxury yacht trip from Melbourne

mark simonds coronavirus
Queensland Police are investigating whether those on board the Lady Pamela breached border rules. Photo: ABC
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Queensland police have launched a criminal investigation into a Melbourne millionaire family who allegedly breached border restrictions by sailing to the Gold Coast on their luxury yacht.

Melbourne multimillionaire Mark Simonds and six other people arrived at Coomera on Monday morning, after several days cruising north from Melbourne on the luxury Lady Pamela.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said people who breached the state’s tough border laws would feel “full force of the law”.

“The exemptions are there for a reason,” she said.

“If they are found to be doing the wrong thing they will face the full force of the law.

“I’m disgusted about it.”

The Lady Pamela, which is owned by Mr Simonds, left Melbourne on August 9. It stopped at several locations along the NSW coast, which is a coronavirus hotspot, before arriving on the Gold Coast.

Mr Simonds is executive director of development company Simonds Group. It is understood he was on the yacht with members of his family.

On Tuesday, Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young said the family had been granted a travel exemption to enter the state. By Tuesday night, it had been revoked.

All on board the yacht were required to go into quarantine at a state-approved hotel, at their own expense.

“Given the conflicting information about whether they were crew, or not crew, where they’d been, I just removed the exemption, and asked all of them to go into hotel quarantine until it all can be worked through,” Dr Young said.

“I can assure people that everyone is perfectly safe, these people never got off that yacht in Queensland, they were tested on the yacht and are now in quarantine.

“[The criminal investigation] is a very serious investigation, and that criminal investigation will sort out what happens going forward.”

Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski warned people to comply with health orders, citing the Lady Pamela case as an example of poor behaviour.

“We’re going to be relentless,” he said.

Queensland Police confirmed the criminal probe in a statement late on Tuesday.

Earlier, Queensland Health said new information had been provided that indicated the owner of the Lady Pamela had obtained an exemption to the state’s border restrictions based on incomplete information.

NSW police are also investigating the sailing trip. NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told the ABC the state’s emergency operations controller, Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys, would look into the issue.

In other border issues, a 50-year-old woman has been fined after travelling to Mackay from Tweed Heads.

She reportedly had a border pass allowing her to travel within the NSW-Queensland border bubble region.

The woman also faces several driving charges. She will appear in the Mackay Magistrates Court on September 15.

Queensland had one new coronavirus case on Wednesday, bringing the cluster at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre to 11. It is in a close contact of someone who was already infected.

The lone case came after a record 20,856 tests in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning.