Queensland’s premier has choked up as she described the plights of Sarah Caisip and Mark Keans as “heartbreaking and gut wrenching” but is adamant her Chief Health Officer is making the right decision over the state’s borders.
Visibly deflated, Annastacia Palaszczuk is not backing down on her state’s strict border measures, saying it isn’t her decision to grant border exemptions.
“It is absolutely heartbreaking … we’re all human, but let me make this clear – I don’t make these decisions,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Friday morning.
“I said to the Prime Minister I would refer this case (Sarah Caisip) to the CHO (Dr Jeannette Young) and I did that … It’s her decision, under the act.
“It is absolutely tragic … heartbreaking … families are not together at the moment. There are people all around the world waiting to come home. It is absolutely heartbreaking and gut wrenching.
“It’s happening around the world.
“My job is to keep five million Queenslanders safe.”
Holding back tears, Ms Palaszczuk said she understand how difficult it was for families who have lost loved ones, saying she had been in the same situation.
In response to a question from a journalist who said Mathias Cormann had described the premier as “cold hearted and nasty”, Ms Palaszczuk said “these are difficult decisions and they are heartbreaking”.
“I am human just like everybody else,” she said.
“These issues hurt me deeply, because during this pandemic I’ve lost loved ones as well, so I know exactly what people are going through.”
It comes as the state records two new COVID-19 cases on Friday, both already in quarantine. In the last 24 hours, more than 9000 tests have been carried out across the state.
Speaking earlier on Friday morning, Ms Palaszczuk said the measures the state had in place were “keeping families safe”.
“You can’t have a strong economy unless you have a the right health response.”
Ms Palaszczuk yesterday hit back at Prime Minister Scott Morrison for “bullying” after he became involved in Ms Caisip’s plight to leave Brisbane quarantine to attend her father’s funeral.
The case caught national attention, and prompted Mr Morrison to make a private and public plea to Ms Palaszczuk to be compassionate.
In response, Ms Palaszczuk said the political divisiveness was “disgusting and disgraceful” and remained firm in her strict border measures as mandated by the Chief Health Officer.
Ms Palaszczuk has copped widespread criticism in the past weeks over her strict stance on borders, with Today show host Sam Armytage this morning saying she “can’t believe this is happening in Australia”.
It’s also sparked questions about why the ACT is deemed a hotspot, as there has been no new COVID-19 cases recorded in Canberra since July.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said both cases had already been in quarantine and weren’t deemed a risk to the community.
One of the new cases confirmed on Friday is the seventh member of one family to test positive, linked to the Queensland Corrective Services Academy cluster. The other is a confirmed community contact of a case linked to the Ipswich Hospital cluster.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Sonya Bennett addressed Mr Keans case, saying “there’s a reason restrictions are in place.”
She said there was a tough balancing act between ensuring compassionate grounds for exemption were granted, and protecting the community from COVID-19 transmission.
“I think there’s many more cases, similar stories that are heartbreaking that the department are addressing,” she said.
Originally published as Choked up premier refuses to back down