Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has accused the prime minister of bullying her.
Queensland health authorities are poised to grant permission to the children of a dying man to cross the NSW border and visit their hospitalised father.
Mark Keans, 39, has been separated from his family, including his four Sydney-based children aged under 13, by Queensland’s COVID-19 border measures.
But late on Thursday a relative told Sky News the family had been offered a deal to visit Mr Keans, under police escort and wearing protective equipment.
A Queensland Heath spokeswoman confirmed to AAP there had been contact with the family but that there was not yet a formal arrangement finalised.
Under Queensland’s health measures all of NSW, the ACT and Victoria are considered virus hotspots and visitors must enter quarantine upon entering the sunshine state.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he has raised about 40 cases with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during the pandemic, including seeking visitation rights.
Sarah Caisip, 26, wrote a scathing letter to Ms Palaszczuk after she applied for an exemption to visit her dying father but wasn’t approved until Friday, two days after his death.
Despite a personal plea from Mr Morrison she was still not allowed to leave quarantine to go to her father’s funeral on Thursday, instead making her final farewell at a private viewing after the service.
“It was within their (the Queensland government’s) gift and the gift was denied,” Mr Morrison told Sky News of Ms Caisip’s initial refused entry.
The prime minister said COVID-19 was proving costly on many fronts, including emotionally.
“I don’t want us to lose any more than we have to. And whether that is our humanity, or whether that is our kids schooling or whether that is that last hug or embrace or whatever it is I just refuse to allow that to be lost to this virus.”
But Annastacia Palaszczuk accused Mr Morrison of trying to bully her over the state’s strict coronavirus border restrictions when he rang her on Thursday morning on behalf of Ms Caisip.
“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.”
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she understood the awful situation confronting people who had travelled to Queensland for a funeral but found themselves unable to attend a service.
“Right at the start of this pandemic that was one of the hardest things I had to face,” she said of introducing a cap on attendants.
Queensland recorded zero coronavirus cases in the 24 hours to Thursday and has 27 active infections.
Authorities have conducted one million virus tests in the eight months since the outbreak in Queensland began, 500,000 of which were conducted in the past six weeks.
Australian Associated Press