The faces of Queensland’s border closure

 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is refusing to talk to the NSW Premier about tough border closures that are causing havoc for residents of communities in northern NSW. 

"I've tried to establish a positive relationship but it's a bit difficult when decisions are made without them even telling us," Premier Gladys Berejiklian told 2GB's Ben Fordham this morning.

Ms Berejiklian said her Queensland counterpart is not willing to make any changes to the strict rules.

"She has made a decision and isn't willing to talk about that decision and is refusing to budge," Ms Berejiklian said.

When asked about her relationship with the Queensland Premier, Ms Berejiklian said it has "always been [her] attitude" to discuss issues with other Premiers.

Ms Berejiklian compared her relationship with Ms Palaszczuk to the joint decision on border closures with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and PM Scott Morrison.

"I'd like to see that applied to all borders."

It comes as distraught NSW parents whose children need lifesaving medical treatment in Brisbane say Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has made them feel like they're "doing something wrong" by seeking it.

The Sunshine State backed down amid public outrage this week regarding the case of a Ballina mum who lost one of her unborn twins after she was told she wouldn't be able to get into Queensland for treatment given its COVID border ­closures.

Queensland has now announced a special unit would be established to streamline the granting of travel exemptions.

But families from northern NSW told The Daily Telegraph that the closure has caused them even more stress after their children had been diagnosed with serious conditions.

 

Jana Loadsman with her 5-year-old daughter Harper. Harper needs a liver transplant but is unable to travel to Brisbane due to the Queensland border closure. Picture: Nathan Edwards.
Jana Loadsman with her 5-year-old daughter Harper. Harper needs a liver transplant but is unable to travel to Brisbane due to the Queensland border closure. Picture: Nathan Edwards.

 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says that Queensland hospitals are for Queenslanders. Picture: Attila Csaszar
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says that Queensland hospitals are for Queenslanders. Picture: Attila Csaszar

Casuarina mum Jana Loadsman has three children who see specialists in Brisbane, including daughter Harper, 5, who has a liver transplant and two other daughters with disabilities.

Ms Loadsman said after the border closed she was ­delayed in receiving immunosuppressant medication from Brisbane for little Harper, who has had multiple complications since her transplant.

She said Ms Palaszczuk's comments that Queensland hospitals were for Queenslanders was "infuriating".

"It's damaging for families," she said.

"It's scary, Tweed cannot help us - they won't touch Harper because her condition is so complicated.

"Australian hospitals are funded by taxpayer dollars … I'm a taxpayer, we are divided by some imaginary line that nobody knows, for us border dwellers it's an absolute joke."

 

Teresa and Matthew McKinlay with their son Johnny, who has leukemia. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Teresa and Matthew McKinlay with their son Johnny, who has leukemia. Picture: Nathan Edwards


Tweed Heads resident ­Teresa Mckinlay's son ­Johnny, 16, was diagnosed with leukaemia last February and he usually stays in Brisbane when receiving lifesaving medical treatment.

But with the border closed Ms Mckinlay has been forced to commute with her son because they would need to self-isolate for 14 days in a hotel if they wanted to stay overnight at accommodation provided by the Leukaemia Found­ation, even though they have been granted an exemption.

"The only way I can stay in Brisbane is if I take Johnny into quarantine for 14 days which I refuse to do because of his immune-compromise and problems with cleanliness," she said. "I'm not going to take the risk to go into ­government quarantine."

Ms Mckinlay said Ms Palaszczuk's comments had been hurtful to her family.

"It's tough enough as it is with the diagnosis, I want to make clear (Ms Palaszczuk's) comment on 'Queensland hospitals are for Queenslanders' has been really upsetting for my family.

"It makes us feel like we're doing something wrong and that we should take Johnny to Sydney."

 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has relaxed the border bubble with Victoria. Picture: Simon Dallinger
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has relaxed the border bubble with Victoria. Picture: Simon Dallinger

 

Queensland Health Minister Steve Miles said the new unit would help co-ordinate exemption requests: "I have asked the unit to contact these people and work through their concerns."

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he had spoken to Mr Miles "in relation to the patient issues raised by The Daily Telegraph".

It comes as a western Sydney primary school was yesterday shut down after a student tested positive to the virus. There were 13 new cases of COVID-19 reported in NSW on Tuesday, including 11 locally acquired cases.

Meanwhile, residents on the NSW-Victorian border will be able to travel 50km into NSW from state lines from Friday, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday expanding the border bubble.

 

Angela Mitchell with her late father.
Angela Mitchell with her late father.

 

That was little comfort to Mildura resident Angela Mitchell who sought a permit to visit her terminally ill father in Broken Hill earlier this month, but was told the process to obtain an end of life visitation permit would take up to a week.

Her father died later that day. An earlier application to travel to Broken Hill was denied in part because Ms Mitchell would be travelling "from a high risk area in Victoria", ­according to an email. As of Saturday there were no ­active cases in Mildura.

 

RECESSION TO BECOME OFFICIAL ON WEDNESDAY

 

Australia will officially end three decades of economic growth today with a "devastating" quarterly hit sending the nation into a recession expec­ted to worsen before it gets better.

Economists are forecasting Australia's economy will have shrunk by about 6 per cent ­between March and June - the biggest drop on record - as a result of the nationwide coronavirus lockdowns.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said the National Accounts for the June quarter would be "old data" with Australia likely to be in a much worse position now, even though states like NSW have started to recover.

"If you're a NSW citizen the worst is probably behind you provided we keep controlling the virus," he said.

Mr Oliver said the estimated 5.9 per cent negative growth was "horrible" but it was likely "better than expected" in April when doomsday forecasts foreshadowed a much bigger hit to the economy.

"The reality is the economy has still been hit hard. It's more like what you'd expect in a ­depression as opposed to a ­recession," he said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned his party room colleagues on Tuesday the official bad news was coming, but pointed to the success of support measures like JobKeeper and Australia's performance compared to the rest of the world as positives.

 

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has given party colleagues a heads up about the bad news. Picture: Gary Ramage
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has given party colleagues a heads up about the bad news. Picture: Gary Ramage

 

The UK reported a 20 per cent drop for the June quarter, the US about 9 per cent and India contracted by almost 30 per cent.

Economist Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics said the international comparisons were "important" in showing while Australia had suffered last quarter, the country had "tended to do better than most".

"It's terrible news and good news at the same time," he said.

 

TAMWORTH COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL LIKELY TO BE CANCELLED

 

It's the event that attracts thousands of revellers to rural NSW every year - but the future of the beloved Tamworth Country Music Festival is hanging in the balance of a tense council vote.

Tamworth regional councillors will vote next Tuesday night, September 8, on whether the legendary 49-year-old music festival will go ahead amid heightened safety fears due to COVID-19.

 

The Big Golden Guitar in Tamworth. Pic: Supplied.
The Big Golden Guitar in Tamworth. Pic: Supplied.

 

A spokeswoman for the festival told The Daily Telegraph that event organisers have already recommended its suspension, however, the final say will come down to a vote.

"Today, festival organisers announced to local media that they would be putting a recommendation to Tamworth Regional Councillors to suspend all Council run events," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

"Councillors still need to vote on this recommendation at a council meeting next Tuesday night.

"The suspension of the festival, which has a 49-year history, has not been considered lightly ...

the health and safety of the community, the artists, and any visitors have been the

main priority of Festival organisers throughout the scenario planning.

"Organisers believe it is unlikely that social distancing and border restrictions will be eased in time to allow the event to proceed in its usual fashion, the result of this would mean that many of the popular aspects of the event would need to be abandoned."

The festival was originally intended to run from Friday January 15 until Sunday January 24, 2021.

Originally published as The faces of Queensland's heartbreaking border closure


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