Premier cries over border decisions as new cases confirmed

 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has fought back her emotions as she faced a barrage of questions on her tough border stance, in the wake of a number of heart-breaking first-person accounts of their impact.  

Ms Palaszczuk repeated her stance that the decisions on exemptions were up to Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.  

"These are very, very heartbreaking issues," she said. "I don't make these decisions."  

On the reopening of borders, the Premier said: "If as a nation we can focus on getting Victoria and NSW under control, then you can set a date for the whole country to open up.

  "I have been absolutely consistent on this."  

Ms Palaszczukl said governments were having to make tough decisions around the world because of the coronavirus pandemic.  

"It's not nice," she said.  

Talking about some of the heartbreaking cases of people not being able to attend the funerals of others because of quarantine restrictions, the Premier said:

"Who wouldn't be touched by these cases. They are heartbreaking. But we are in a global pandemic and my job is to keep Queenslanders safe. My job is to keep five million Queenslanders safe.  

"I have to do my job to the best of my ability."  

Ms Palaszczuk fought back her emotions as she answered questions about some of Queensland's tough restrictions during the pandemic, which has kept families apart during times of grief.   "I'm human just like everyone else," she said.

"These issues hurt me deeply. During this pandemic I've lost loved ones as well so I know what people are going through."  

The Premier revealed there have been two new COVID-19 cases overnight.   Both cases were already in quarantine. They take the number of active cases in the state to 28.  

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said one of the latest cases takes the number of people in the one household who have developed the pandemic virus to seven.  

Deputy Queensland Chief Health Office Sonya Bennett said one of the new cases was linked to the Ipswich Hospital cluster.  

Ms Bennett said Queensland Health was dealing with many heartbreaking cases of people asking for exemptions to public health restrictions.   

It follows more than 9000 tests in the past 24 hours and comes as a slew of heartbreaking border stories come to light, including the plight of an ACT woman forced to miss her father's funeral, a dying father separated from his Sydney-based family, and the revelation that Hollywood stars are being given preferential treatment at the border.   Sarah Caisip, 26, of Canberra, was eventually permitted to

farewell her father in person after she found herself at the centre of a standoff over Queensland's strict border rules, but she had to do it alone, clad in extensive PPE, and without her loved ones at a private viewing of his body.  

Ms Palaszczuk on Friday morning defended her government's border exemption rules as she faced a grilling from the Opposition at an estimates hearings.  

Ms Palaszczuk said Queensland had 40 people who worked specifically on border exemption applications, and there were 8 staff made up of nurses, doctors and other medical professionals as part of a specialist unit.  

"In relation to exemptions, I think there seems to be ... people don't think that these exemptions are happening," Ms Palaszczuk said.   "In fact, there were 31,000 freight exemptions that have been granted.  

"I understand 170,000 border zone exemptions - so they're the people that are working ... going crossing over between those border communities.  

"And then I also understand there have been 229 exemptions for specialist workers, health care and compassionate grounds."

Ms Palaszczuk said these were very difficult times and insisted her government wanted to give the "greatest attention" it possibly can to families that are currently apart.  

It came after Queensland's border exemption regime came under national attention yesterday, when a Canberra resident was unable to attend her Queensland father's funeral.  

The 26-year-old woman was ultimately allowed to have a private viewing of her father's body - isolated from her mother and 11-year-old sister.  

Meanwhile, Queensland's Chief Health Officer made the stunning admission about preferential treatment for Hollywood star Tom Hanks because "entertainment and film bring a lot of money into this state".  

And a dying father will be reunited with his children and a Queensland man's final wish fulfilled, after an outpouring of charitable donations covered his family's astronomical hotel quarantine costs, after his Sydney-based family appealed for a border exemption.

News Corp Australia

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