Another Canberra woman has been left heartbroken after her request to say goodbye to her dying mother and attend the funeral in Cairns was ignored by the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Sophie Andrews (the name Region Media has given the woman to provide anonymity) was forced to watch her mother’s funeral online from her Gungahlin home on Friday, even though she planned to travel directly from Canberra where there have been zero cases of COVID-19 since 10 July.
“I sat there watching Mum deteriorating on FaceTime, it was very frustrating,” Ms Andrews said while fighting back tears.
“I never got to hug and kiss her as I would have been able to if the borders had not been closed and I had been able to travel up there. My mum gave the best hugs!”
Ms Andrews is a Queenslander but lives in the ACT while her husband serves in the Australian Army.
“I wouldn’t have minded if the Queensland Premier checked my COVID-19 tracking app to see that I hadn’t been to NSW or left the Australia Capital Territory for months now,” she said.
Doctors warned Ms Andrews that her mother had taken a turn for the worse a couple of weeks ago after battling cancer for several years. However, the initial diagnosis that gave Ms Andrews’ mother several weeks to live soon became days.
The 14-day mandatory quarantine for those travelling to Queensland meant that even though Ms Andrews and her family were granted permission to travel to Cairns, they would have been stuck in a hotel during her mother’s last days and the funeral.
More than a week before the funeral, Ms Andrews sent a written plea to Premier Palaszczuk to waive the 14-day quarantine.
The only reply Ms Andrews received was an email from the premier’s office saying her border exemption request had been forwarded to Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles.
“I am begging that you would allow me, my husband and four young children to travel up and say goodbye to my mother and support my father at this time,” Ms Andrews said in her plea on 2 September.
“We would fly direct from Canberra where, as you know, there have been no cases in 54 days now. We would stop over in Brisbane and not leave the airport and then fly direct to Cairns all while wearing masks. We have not left the ACT for many weeks now and have been socially distancing here as well.
“Please put yourself in our situation. What would you do if it were your parents?”
The Queensland Government has been criticised for its harsh border closures and for identifying the ACT as a COVID-19 hotspot on grounds it’s surrounded by cases in NSW.
Premier Palaszczuk has also come under fire for allowing AFL players and their families to cross the border while people such as Ms Andrews have been denied access to their parent’s funerals.
Canberra woman Sarah Caisip was also denied permission to attend her father’s funeral in Queensland. She was only allowed to view her father’s body for 10 minutes while wearing full personal protective equipment.
“The fact that we’re at 65 days without coronavirus in the ACT means the Queensland Premier’s decision to keep the border closed can only be political,” Ms Andrews said on Sunday (13 September).
Ms Andrews and her family are hoping to travel to Cairns to be with Ms Andrews’ father and siblings in October.
“I’m hoping Premier Palaszczuk doesn’t get reelected in October and the borders are open again so we all can go up and be with Dad.”