Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is copping major criticism for her decision to let hundreds of AFL officials defy border rules, despite multiple cases of border residents being denied emergency exemptions.
On Tuesday night about 400 AFL players, officials and their families were allowed to enter Queensland from Melbourne, where Victoria’s second COVID-19 wave originated.
The move has angered many and resulted in fierce backlash against Ms Palaszczuk, who has continually insisted that Queensland’s hard borders need to be in place to keep residents safe.
The mayor of one of the towns on the NSW/Qld border has pleaded with the premier to “stop being so heartless” and ease border restrictions.
The town of Mungindi had its only supermarket burn down, with residents now forced to travel hundreds of kilometres out of the border bubble to get basic supplies.
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However, the strict border rules means that if residents do travel outside the bubble, then they won’t be able to access Queensland for medical care.
Mayor Katrina Humphries told Sunrise that calls for help to the Queensland government have gone unanswered.
When asked if she had a message for the Queensland premier, Ms Humphries said: “Please stop being so heartless. Stop being so cruel.”
She said the premier was unnecessarily punishing people.
“Move off your pedestal, open your borders, and let businesses get back to business and let people live their lives,” Ms Humphries said.
“It has got to the stage now where it has become pathetic.”
Sunrise co-host, Sam Armytage, said her “blood is boiling” over Ms Palaszczuk’s actions, claiming she has refused to appear on the show.
“She won’t come on the show. I am happy to have it out with her. I am fed up with what’s going on in NSW,” she said.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has been one of the premier’s most vocal critics in the government, lashing out at the “cruel implications” the tough border rules have had.
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Mr Frydenberg cited multiple cases where people living in northern NSW have been barred from entering the state for emergency medical treatment.
“I think the Queensland Premier has got some questions to answer here. How can it be okay for people to go up to prepare for a footy game, and its not okay to go to hospital for treatment,” he told Nine’s A Current Affair last night.
“How can it be okay that a young woman loses an unborn child because of border confusion … that a four-year-old boy with cancer can be separated from his mother?
“These are cruel and confused implications from these strict border approaches.”
Mr Frydenberg was referring to a recent case where a mother tragically lost one of her unborn twins after being told it would take too long to get an exemption to enter Queensland for emergency surgery.
As a result, Ballina couple Kimberley and Scott Brown never applied for an exemption to enter the state from a nearby border town and Ms Brown was forced to fly to Sydney with a 16 hour wait before she was able to have surgery.
In a separate case a mum was forced to be separated from her four-year-old son while he underwent treatment for cancer in Brisbane.
A few weeks ago the parents of young Arlo Ozols were told his acute lymphoblastic leukaemia has returned, meaning they would have to travel from Bangalow in northern NSW to get to his treatment team at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.
But the state’s tough border rules meant Arlo’s mum was forced into two weeks of hotel quarantine while he underwent his cancer treatment, with only his dad allowed to isolate at the hospital with him.
Two weeks ago Ms Palaszczuk caused outrage after saying Queensland hospitals were “for our people only”.
“People living in NSW they have NSW hospitals. In Queensland we have Queensland hospitals for our people,” she said during a press conference.
Speaking on Sky News this morning, Mr Frydenberg once again lashed out at Ms Palaszczuk, highlighting more instances of “double standards” with the Queensland border rules.
“Today we hear a new story of a grandmother of seven who was recovering from brain surgery who asked to be quarantined at home at her home in Queensland,” he said.
“Yet she has been forced into hotel quarantine while the football officials can go and sit by the pool bar in Queensland.
“That’s just not on. It seems to be double standards.”
Jayne Brown, a 60-year-old brain tumour patient, had her application for quarantine exemption was rejected twice by the Queensland government.
She was forced to stay in a Brisbane hotel for two weeks after returning to the state from Sydney where she had two large tumours removed from her brain.
“I don’t understand it, mind-blowing,” Ms Brown told Nine.
“I was in a wheelchair, I couldn’t walk, my right leg was compromised, it was numb, it was weak, I couldn’t stand on it.
“I wasn’t well at all and got shuffled into a five-by-five hotel room and just left there.”
Yesterday, Deputy NSW Premier John Barilaro fired up over the exemption granted to the 400 AFL officials to enter the state, calling on the Ms Palaszczuk to “show some heart”.
“400 AFL officials from coronavirus central will go across the border into Queensland yet a young family can’t get emergency healthcare across the border,” he told the Today show.
“I think Annastacia Palaszczuk continues to show politics trumps good policy and I think she is undoing all her good work.
“I don’t get it. I don’t understand why the Premier of Queensland can’t see it. Show some heart.
“Show some ability to understand the impact this is having and understand that that Queensland border is a seamless border.”