A young woman will be allowed to leave quarantine in Brisbane to view her father’s body, but won’t be allowed to attend his funeral in a case that has ignited a bitter feud between Queensland’s premier and the prime minister.
Canberra resident Sarah Caisip, 23, has been permitted to view her father Bernard’s body by the state’s chief health officer.
But despite a personal plea from Prime Minister Scott Morrison she will still not be allowed to leave quarantine to go to her father’s funeral on Sept. 10.
Annastacia Palaszczuk accused Morrison of trying to bully her over the state’s strict coronavirus border restrictions when he rang her on Sept. 10 morning to make an appeal on behalf of the Canberra resident.
Caisip, who’s moved from Brisbane in February, had applied for a Queensland border exemption to visit her dying father but it wasn’t granted until Friday, two days after his death.
She then tried to get an exemption from health officials to be released from quarantine in Brisbane to go to his funeral at 2 p.m.
“They said I shouldn’t even be in Queensland because the exemption for me to come to Queensland was to say goodbye to my dying father, not to go to the funeral,” she told Brisbane radio 4BC.
The prime minister made the emotional plea on behalf of the family, saying it wasn’t about borders and that Palaszczuk’s lack of action over the “heartbreaking case” had forced his hand.
“The only thing that matters today is that Sarah can be with her 11-year-old sister Isabel and her mother Merna while they mourn the passing of their father and husband Bernard,” he told Sydney radio 2GB.
“It was Father’s Day on the weekend … In this midst of all this heartache, surely just this once this can be done.”
Palaszczuk lashed out at Morrison in state parliament after Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington asked her about the case.
The premier accused the opposition of taking part in a coordinated campaign with the prime minister’s office.
“It is absolutely not acceptable for the leader of the opposition to do what she is doing today. A coordinated campaign with the prime minister’s office is disgusting and it is demeaning,” she said.
“I would hope that the prime minister would work in a cooperative manner with everyone across this country, and this divisiveness, and these fights, and this intimidation, and this bullying is the worst I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”
Frecklington denied she had coordinated her question about the case in parliament with Morrison’s radio call.
“Absolutely not,” she told reporters.
“Sarah reached out to us. We have her correspondence because when you don’t hear from the premier and you send a letter that says ‘My dad is dead’ and you don’t get a response, who do you think she goes to? She goes to everyone else that will listen to her.”
Meanwhile, Queensland recorded zero coronavirus cases overnight and has 27 active infections.
Health Minister Steven Miles says authorities have conducted one million virus tests.
“It took six months to reach 500,000 tests, but it only took six weeks to double that and reach the magic million mark,” he said.
He thanked the state’s “hard-working” health authorities for their efforts.
“Their outstanding work is the reason we have prevented much greater devastation in our state.”
By Sophie Moore