Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann described Ms Palaszczuk as “so cold-hearted and so harsh and so nasty”, while Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton questioned her judgement over the decision.
“I don’t think she is a mean person. I don’t think Annastacia Palaszczuk is a bad person, but I think she is making bad calls and I think the inconsistency is what really annoys people,” Mr Dutton said.
In her first press conference in seven days, Ms Palaszczuk said on Friday these were “absolutely heartbreaking and gut-wrenching times” for people stuck at Heathrow Airport waiting to come home and people who cannot see loved ones in Victoria and Western Australia.
“I’m human just like everyone else. These issues hurt me deeply. They hurt me deeply because during this pandemic I have lost loved ones as well. I know exactly what people are going through,” said Ms Palaszczuk, who had fought back tears in public three times this week.
“As I said to the Prime Minister, I don’t make these decisions, the Chief Health Officer does.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the state has tasked “around 80 people” to grant or deny border exemption applications.
She flagged that number could swell because “it is absolutely crucial we have as many staff as is needed to deal with these complex and heartbreaking issues”.
The new specialist team of eight clinicians, to deal with medical exemptions, have fielded more than 400 calls in its first week of operation.
“These people are human beings as well,” she said.
A day earlier, Ms Palaszczuk said she would “not be bullied and nor will I be intimidated by the Prime Minister of this country”, leading the Queensland LNP to accuse the Premier of “playing the victim”.
Ms Caisip, who moved from Queensland to Canberra in February, was locked in hotel quarantine and denied permission to attend her father’s funeral in Brisbane, even though there have been no COVID-19 cases in the ACT for more than two months.
Ms Caisip was eventually permitted to view her father’s body on Thursday, while wearing full personal protective equipment.
“I got to see dad so that was better than nothing,” she told 4BC.
“It was really strange being in a funeral and that time of saying goodbye I couldn’t even get the support from mum or my sister.”
Mr Morrison intervened in another border case on Friday when he donated $1000 of his own money to help cover the quarantine cost for a NSW family desperate to enter Queensland to say goodbye to their father, Mark Keans, who is dying of pancreatic cancer.
Anyone entering from somewhere Queensland has decided is a hot spot – which includes all of NSW, Victoria and the ACT – must apply for an exemption to enter the state and has to pay for their own hotel quarantine for 14 days.
No exemption is needed during a medical emergency.
Returning Queensland residents do not have to apply for an exemption but must also complete 14-days hotel quarantine at their own expense.
The committee of the nation’s leading medical experts is working to get a common definition for a virus hotspot as a top priority, with the Prime Minister seeking to use the medical advice to pressure other leaders to lower their border walls.
Queensland has has reserved the right to see how the hotspot definition process develops.
“We haven’t seen any details and there might be two [other] states that actually give it a trial and see how it goes,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
The Northern Territory will reopen its borders to Sydneysiders from October 9 provided NSW continues to keep community transmission under control.
However, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said Victoria had a long way to go before the NT would relax travel restrictions on its residents.
Federal deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd said the news of some reopening of borders would hearten many Australians.
“It’s very important, though, that travel of people between jurisdictions is done in a COVID-safe way and that we’re not risking the transmission of COVID-19 from one jurisdiction to another,” he said.
Lydia Lynch is Queensland political reporter for the Brisbane Times