Annastacia Palaszczuk welled up on national television on Friday morning as she fronted the cameras for the first time since refusing to let a 26-year-old nurse attend her father’s funeral.
The Queensland premier choked back tears as she refuted allegations she was ‘cold-hearted and nasty’ for keeping grieving families apart with draconian border closures while letting Hollywood stars and AFL players into the state.
With her voice cracking, the premier said she understands people’s pain because she has lost loved ones during the coronavirus crisis.
‘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,’ she said.
‘I know exactly what people are going through, OK?’
Tearful: Annastacia Palaszczuk cried on national television this morning as she fronted the cameras for the first time since refusing to let a 26-year-old nurse attend her father’s funeral
Emotional: Ms Palaszczuk had tears in her eyes as she left her media conference on Friday morning
Sarah Caisip (in yellow) was 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
‘These are difficult decisions and they’re heartbreaking,’ she said.
Ms Palaszczuk did not reveal which ‘loved ones’ she has lost.
Many Queenslanders were unconvinced by the premier’s conference. Facebook user Charlie Sass called her a ‘paid actress’ and another named Nicole Smith said her ‘crocodile tears’ were too late.
The premier refused to take any responsibility for her border decisions and said Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young made the call to prevent nurse Sarah Caisip from farewelling her father with her family in Brisbane on Thursday.
Ms Caisip, who lives in coronavirus-free Canberra, applied for an exemption last month to visit her sick father Bernard Prendergast in Brisbane – but it took 20 days to get approved and he died of liver cancer two days before her flight.
The young woman, who is in hotel quarantine in Brisbane, was banned from attending her father’s funeral on Thursday because officials believe she is a Covid-19 risk even though the ACT has had no cases for 60 days.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison had asked Ms Palaszczuk to make an exception but the premier refused and accused him of ‘bullying and intimidating’ her.
‘I said to the prime minister, I would refer it to the chief health officer and I did that,’ Ms Palaszczuk said on Friday morning.
‘It’s her decision… you’ve got to take the clinical advice here.
‘We’re dealing with a health pandemic. It is absolutely tragic. It is heartbreaking.’
Up to 100 family and friends were allowed to attend the 2pm service in Mount Gravatt but instead of standing alongside them to farewell her father, Ms Caisip was only granted a private viewing of his body, surrounded by guards and forbidden from seeing her shattered mother and 11-year-old sister.
Mr Morrison, who lost his own father in January, choked back tears as he described the case as ‘heartbreaking’ in a radio interview.
Ms Caisip was granted a private viewing of her father’s body, surrounded by security guards and without being allowed to see her mother and 11-year-old sister (both pictured)
Queensland’s border madness: The heartbroken families
Mark Keanes, from Brisbane, was diagnosed with inoperable brain and lung cancer in late July and the doctors believe he won’t make it past Christmas.
Health authorities had initially said only one of Mr Keanes’ four Sydney-based children – all of whom are under the age of 13 – could cross the border to see him one last time.
Queensland Health did not at first respond to multiple requests for an exemption from the truck driver’s family, but later told them they can drive into the state and pay for two weeks quarantine in a Brisbane hotel.
A fundraising page to pay for their quarantine has raised more than $200,000, including a $1,000 donation from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Mr Keans pictured with his children (L-R) Noah 13, Caitlyn 11, Caleb 11, and Isaac, 7
Kimberley Brown and her husband Scott, from Ballina, in northern New South Wales, were told on August 12 that their unborn twins had developed twin to twin transfusion syndrome.
Mrs Brown needed urgent surgery but despite living just two hours away from Queensland’s Mater Hospital doctors told her she would need to apply for a border exemption, which took too long.
She was flown 750km to Sydney but lost one of her twins.
It came ten days after Premier Palaszczuk declared that Queensland hospitals are ‘for our people’.
Kimberley Brown and her husband Scott, from Ballina, in northern NSW, learned that they had lost their unborn baby after being forced to travel 750kms because of Queensland’s border restrictions
Jayne Brown, 60, spent two weeks confined to a tiny hotel room in Brisbane following her recent return from Sydney, where renowned neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo removed two large tumours on her brain.
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 Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who allowed 400 AFL players and officials from coronavirus-riddled Victoria to enter the state and quarantine in a luxury hotel.
Jayne Brown described the decision to allow 400 AFL officials into Queensland as mindblowing
Sarah Caisip, who lives in coronavirus-free Canberra, applied for an exemption last month to visit her sick father Bernard Prendergast in Brisbane – but it took 20 days to get approved and he died of liver cancer two days before her flight.
The young nurse was banned from attending her father’s funeral on Thursday because officials believed she is a Covid-19 risk even though the ACT has had no cases for 60 days.
Ms Caisip was only granted a private viewing of her father’s body, surrounded by guards and forbidden from seeing her shattered mother and 11-year-old sister.
Sarah Caisip was only granted a private viewing of her father’s body, surrounded by guards
Ms Caisip said Ms Palaszczuk was ‘destroying my life’ and that she would never forgive her.
State Opposition leader Deb Frecklington, who also campaigned to let Ms Caisip go to the funeral, said she was ‘disgusted’ by the decision.
Queensland’s borders are closed to Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT. Premier Palaszczuk faces an election next month and the tough borders are believed to be popular with most Queenslanders.
Ms Palaszczuk has come under fire for inconsistency on border rules after letting actors including Tom Hanks as well as hundreds of AFL players, WAGs and staff enter Queensland via special luxury quarantine while keeping ordinary families apart.
Hanks, who caught the virus in Australia in March, is in quarantine in a luxury Gold Coast hotel organised by the film industry after returning to Queensland from the US to continue filming Baz Lurhmann’s Elvis Presley biopic.
Mr Morrison has raised about 40 exemption requests with state and territory leaders, asking them to grant travel permission on compassionate grounds.
Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young, who is in charge of granting exemptions, defended her decision and said on Thursday that she is ‘very risk averse’.
‘We know that funerals are very, very high risk for transmission of the virus. The last thing I would want to happen is to have an outbreak at a funeral,’ she said.
Dr Young said Ms Caisip’s application for an exemption took 20 days because there are thousands submitted every day.
Sarah Caisip is pictured with her father Bernard Prendergast, 11-year-old sister Isobel Prendergast and mother Myrna Prendergast
She said Canberra is declared a hotspot because ‘it is in the middle of New South Wales, we know there are cases around them.’
Dr Young on Thursday admitted the government’s border policy was influenced by money.
‘I have given exemptions for people in entertainment and film because that is bringing a lot of money into this state,’ she said.
Queensland has been rocked by dozens of heartbreaking cases of families being torn apart and lives being shattered by the border closure.
One 60-year-woman was forced to quarantine in a hotel after brain surgery in Sydney and a mother lost her unborn twin after she was flown 700km to Sydney for surgery because an exemption allowing her into Queensland took too long.
The prime minister has been trying to persuade Ms Palaszczuk – and other premiers – to relax their tough border controls, but under Australia’s federal system he cannot overrule state governments.
Premier Palaszczuk cheered and wooped when Brisbane was granted the AFL final and she let hundreds of staff enter the state