Officials enforcing Queensland’s COVID-19 border policies have rejected dozens of medical emergency requests from families desperate to be reunited with their dying loved ones.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk came under national scrutiny on Thursday after Queensland health officials refused to allow Canberra woman Sarah Caisip, 26, out of hotel quarantine to attend her father’s funeral in Brisbane.
Ms Palaszczuk’s government would only allow the nursing graduate to see her father’s body in private after Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the under-fire premier to ask her to make an exception in the young woman’s case.
Taking to the floor of Queensland’s state parliament later in the day, Ms Palaszczuk then sensationally accused Mr Morrison of bullying and intimidating her.
Mr Morrison said late on Thursday evening he had raised more than 40 different compassionate grounds exemptions with the Queensland government.
One case highlighted by federal authorities involved a mother and father who failed to get an application to enter Queensland resolved in time to be with their son before his life support machine was switched off after a series of strokes.
He earlier strongly rejected any accusation of bullying – saying he just wanted Ms Caisip with be reunited with her sister and mother at the Mount Gravatt service.
Scroll down for audio
Sarah Caisip is pictured with her father Bernard Prendergast, 11-year-old sister Isobel Prendergast and mother Myrna Prendergast. The 26-year-old was denied a quarantine exemption from the Queensland government to attend her father’s funeral in Brisbane on Thursday
Ms Caisip (in yellow) was only allowed to have a private viewing of her father’s body, dressed in PPE and with security guards minding her. She was not allowed to greet her family
‘I’m glad she got to say one last farewell to her father, Bernard,’ Mr Morrison told Sky News‘ Peta Credlin.
‘I’m pleased she was able to do that, but I wish she was able to give her mum and her sister a hug.’
Mr Morrison denied he had wanted to make public his call to Ms Palaszczuk to score political points.
‘I’ve raised many cases with the premier,’ he said.
‘I’ve probably raised more than 40 cases I think by correspondence and I haven’t made those a matter of the public record.
‘I think that’s what people expect of us to do, to pick up the phone to each other in these cases and to raise these issues – and that’s what I sought to do this morning.’
Dozens of the appeals on compassionate grounds raised by the federal government to Ms Palaszczuk were unsuccessful, The Australian reported.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had sent dozens of requests to intervene in border cases to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
Mark Keans – who has terminal cancer – is pictured with his children (L-R) Noah 13, Caitlyn 11, Caleb 11, and Isaac, 7. His family have been quoted $16,000 in quarantine fees to travel to Queensland to say goodbye to him
In another heartbreaking case of a family desperate to see their dying loved one, the children of Brisbane father Mark Keans were quoted $16,000 in hotel quarantine fees to say their final goodbyes to him.
Health authorities had earlier said only one of Mr Keans’ four Sydney-based children – all of whom are under the age of 13 – could cross the border to see him one last time as he battles terminal cancer in his brain and lungs.
Queensland Health did not at first respond to multiple requests for an exemption from the truck driver’s family, but have now told them they can drive into the state and pay for two weeks quarantine in a Brisbane hotel.
But the 11 close family members of Mr Keans, 39, will first have to pay the eye-watering fees to ensure they do not have COVID-19 before entering the Queensland community.
The state’s standard quarantine fees are $4,620 for two adults and two children.
His family’s desperation has prompted a wave of donations to a GoFundMe page set up to support their bid to get across the border – with $205,000 raised in four hours by Friday morning despite them setting a fundraising goal of just $30,000.
Costs will also include taxi transfer to visit the father at his home – where his family will be escorted by government staff and have to wear full personal protective equipment.
‘My wife told the Queensland Health person “this is ridiculous – its going to cost more to quarantine than it will to bury my son”,’ Mr Keans’ father Bruce Langborne told Daily Mail Australia.
Mr Keans was diagnosed a month ago with an inoperable cancer and is not expected to live until Christmas. Earlier, his family were told only one of his children would be given permission to cross into Queensland to see him in his final moments
‘At least they spoke to us but we didn’t get anywhere – this is only a suggestion as well and nothing has been confirmed yet.’
Mr Langborne said his local member of parliament had been far more supportive of their situation – even offering to fly his son to New South Wales by air ambulance so he could be with his family.
‘We understand and sympathise that this is a very difficult time and there are challenges,’ a Queensland Health spokeswoman said.
‘We are in the midst of a global pandemic and we need to protect our communities, especially the most vulnerable members of the community.
‘We understand the health directions in place are strict, but they are designed to protect Queenslanders from COVID-19.’
A heavily pregnant mother was also forced to wait 16 hours for emergency surgery in Sydney after being turned away at the Queensland border, before losing one of her unborn twin babies.
A heavily pregnant mother was forced to wait 16 hours for emergency surgery in Sydney after being turned away at the Queensland border, before losing one of her unborn twin babies
The mother, from Ballina in New South Wales, which is just 88km from the Queensland border, had twins who were just 24 weeks along and needed urgent care.
She wasn’t initially granted an exemption to cross the border for surgery at the Gold Coast University Hospital 125km away and instead had to wait for 16 hours in Lismore for a flight to Sydney.
The woman’s father Allan Watt said one of the twins became anaemic during surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.
Jayne Brown, 60, spent two weeks confined to a tiny hotel room in Brisbane following the surgery by renowned neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo – who removed two large tumours on her brain.
Jayne Brown (pictured) was denided an exemption to self-isolate at her Sunshine Coast home
The grandmother-of-seven requested an exemption from hotel quarantine to self-isolate at home on the Sunshine Coast, but was rejected twice.
She blasted the Queensland premier, who allowed 400 AFL players and officials from coronavirus-riddled Victoria to enter the state last Tuesday night.
‘I don’t understand it, mind-blowing,’ Ms Brown told Nine News last week.
Meanwhile, a young mother with a newborn baby has been left in limbo over when she will next be reunited with her mine worker husband due to Queensland’s strict border restrictions.