Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has distanced herself from the heartbreaking decision to ban a grieving daughter from attending her father’s funeral insisting “I don’t make those decisions.”
Canberra woman Sarah Caisip, 26 was given a special exemption to view her father’s body on Thursday after the Prime Minister intervened in the case.
Wearing full personal protection equipment including scrubs and a COVID mask, she was taken to view the coffin under police guard but banned from attending the funeral with her family.
Pleading for understanding for the health officials making tough decisions on COVID-19 exemptions, Ms Palaszczuk it was “not nice” but the simple fact was the world was fighting a deadly virus.
“We’re in a global pandemic and my job is to keep Queenslanders safe. That’s my job. My job is to keep five million Queenslanders safe,’’ she said.
“It is absolutely heartbreaking. Everyone, anyone who would’ve seen those images is heart broken.”
But she insisted she had now power as Queensland Premier to make the call insisting it was a decision for the chief health officer Jeanette Young.
“And let me make it very clear, I don’t make those decisions. I said to the Prime Minister, I would refer it to the chief health officer and I did that,’’ she said.
“It’s her decision. Under the Act, it’s her decision.
“Everyone is human. You know. We’re in a global pandemic at the moment. It is tough on everyone.”
It comes after Scott Morrison unleashed an emotional attack on the Queensland premier, saying a decision to stop a woman from seeing her father’s funeral was inhumane.
The PM also talked about the case of a dying dad in Queensland being told only one of his four children could travel from NSW to say goodbye – saying it is a choice he could never make.
He told Sky News it was “hard to draw any other conclusion” in an interview overnight.
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.
Yesterday, Mr Morrison contacted Ms Palaszczuk to seek an exemption in the case.
Not long after, the woman – who now lives in Canberra- was granted permission to see her father in his coffin but under police guard and without any family present.
She was allowed to briefly leave her hotel, but she couldn’t go to the funeral itself, instead she was ushered into another room with full PPE on to view her father’s body for just ten minutes. Her family were kept at arm’s length.
After being asked whether he thought Ms Palaszczuk’s decision not to give the girl an exemption was inhumane, the prime minister said “it’s hard to draw any other conclusion”.
“It’s just one day I had hoped that something different could be done,” Mr Morrison told Sky News host Peta Credlin.
“There’s been some shocking days during the course of this pandemic, and today just hurt.
“At least, I’m glad she got to say one last farewell to her father, Bernard, I’m pleased she was able to do that. But gee, I wish she was able to give her mum and her sister a hug.
“And the other thing is, Peta, we ask our police officers to do some hard things. Can you imagine being one of those police officers today, with Sarah? Honestly.”
Mr Morrison said if the premiers believe borders are necessary, then they must find “a better way to deal with the heart”.
“We’re going to lose so much as a result of this dreadful virus – we’re sick to the back teeth with this – I just don’t want to lose anything more than we have to.
“I’m mystified at the discretion not exercised today.”
Mr Morrison said 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.
As the Sky News interview turned personal, Credlin asked whether Mr Morrison would be able to choose one of his two daughters to say goodbye to him, if he were dying.
“Never. Never,” he replied. “This is the point, right? In all of this race we have now, to protect human life from this virus, are we losing our humanity?” she asked.
“Well the way these decisions are being made, we’re at great risk of that. Of course we are,” Mr Morrison said.
“I believe people, during COVID, they’re all trying to do the best they can. But when the rules are written in such a way … then that is the great loss that is suffered.
“We’re going to lose so much as a result of this dreadful virus, and we’re all sick to the back teeth of this thing. I just don’t want us to lose any more than we have to.
It comes as Ms Palaszczuk said in Queensland parliament that she “will not be bullied nor … intimidated by the prime minister”.
“I will not be bullied nor will I be intimidated by the Prime Minister of this country who contacted me this morning and who I made [it] very clear to, the fact that it is not my decision,” she said.
“It is the Chief Health Officer’s decision to make.
“The Prime Minister at the time said to me that he had not gone public, but Mr Speaker, I knew that he would go public.
“To use the tragedy of this personal family is disgusting Mr Speaker.”
The prime minister said he “didn’t really care” about the premier’s comment as the issue at hand was not about either of the leaders.
Asked by Credlin why, when it comes to the Queensland border closure, it’s one rule for footballers and celebrities and another for ordinary people, Mr Morrison said it was clear there double standards at play.
“Well I think that’s why people have been so frustrated today, when they see double standards.
“Queenslanders are fair-minded people. I know, I’m sure the vast majority of Queenslanders would support the border being in place. That’s why it’s not about that, it’s about – you know, Queenslanders are very fair-minded people too, and I think this is what would offended them, the double standards that are there.
“I didn’t want to see this become a public issue today, because largely for Sarah and Isabelle and Merna’s case. They’re trying to deal with the loss of their husband and their father today, and all of this was happening around that. And I’m sad that that has been the case.”