AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan says footy executives, WAGs and media who flew from Victoria to Queensland are “doing this quarantine the same as everyone else”.
Images released by Nine showing them enjoying a huge swimming pool at their luxury Gold Coast resort tell a different story.
The Queensland government’s decision to welcome the 400 Melbourne-based AFL bigwigs to cross the border has been met with fury as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is accused of double standards.
Nine described it as Palasczuk giving the AFL the “royal treatment” after a brain tumour patient’s application for quarantine exemption was rejected twice by the government, despite it welcoming the sporting officials to cross the border.
Brisbane radio host Scott Emerson said it was “perverse” there was “one rule for celebrities, sportsmen and multi-millionaires when it comes to Queensland’s hard border lockdown, and another for battlers and medical emergencies”.
But Channel 7 footy reporter Tom Browne said the Queensland Government was doing good business.
“Sick people should get access to federal funded hospitals. We need to be more compassionate. But the AFL coming into Queensland is fine,” he tweeted. “Almost no COVID risk. Massive injection for state economy. The government’s doing business. Employing people.”
Palaszczuk — who sent out a tweet on Thursday evening reaffirming the AFL party was in quarantine — and McLachlan are riding out the storm.
“These are decisions the health department has signed off on,” said McLachlan, as the excitement over the league’s announcement it is holding the grand final in Brisbane quickly dissipates.
A host of politicians have attacked the Queensland Premier, including Nationals leader Michael McCormack and his deputy David Littleproud.
“As a Queenslander I’m ashamed today when the Premier of Queensland can allow 400 AFL executives to swan around a resort in the Gold Coast but won’t allow teenage boarding school children to go home to see their parents in remote NSW. (It) is abhorrent, it’s wrong,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Australians don’t do that to other Australians, you’ve got to get your priorities right. This is about people, it’s not about a game of football, no one will remember two days after it.”
Mr McCormack added: “Why is it fair that AFL hierarchy can just go to the state of Queensland be allowed to go to a launch albeit of the AFL grand final and no one likes the AFL more than I do but when people can’t access health, when people can’t go to a funeral of a loved one, of a family member, this is just not right and it’s not fair.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has appealed for compassion from Palaszczuk over her refusal to ease border restrictions.
“I just want the Queensland government to have a compassionate approach to people in our norther border communities who are doing it tough,” Ms Berejiklian told A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw on Thursday.
She said there were people living near the border who were desperate to cross for medical reasons and some who were tradespeople.
Jayne Brown, 60, is one of those people – she was forced to stay in a tiny Brisbane hotel for two weeks following her recent return from Sydney where she had two large tumours removed from her brain.
She has since lashed out at Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for allowing the 400 AFL players and officials from coronavirus-riddled Victoria to enter the state on Tuesday night.
“I don’t understand it, mind-blowing,” Ms Brown told 9 News.
“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.”
Ms Berejiklian told A Current Affair that in her most recent conversation with the Queensland leader, Ms Palaszczuk agreed to consider looking at the rules pertaining to health workers.
“In the meantime we know that people are suffering, businesses are suffering, and I just want to do the right thing by our citizens, not necessarily just on the NSW border but our border communities who are suffering as a result,” Ms Berejiklian said.
— with Shireen Khalil