Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said she is willing to let a couple stranded in hotel quarantine visit a dying relative, if NSW Health tell them how the pair will safely travel across the border.
Mark Kilian and Anneli Gericke are stuck in isolation in Sydney after travelling from the US to visit Mr Kilian’s dying father in Queensland.
A last-minute rejection from Queensland Health — following successful appeals to Border Force and NSW Health for exemptions — came through as the fully vaccinated husband and wife sat on the tarmac waiting to depart Los Angeles International Airport.
“If they want to break the 14-day mandatory quarantine for this couple, and if they can provide (Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young) with how they will safely be transferred from Sydney to the Gold Coast, we, of course, will do everything we can to facilitate the reunion with his father at the earliest convenience,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters today.
On Tuesday, the Queensland Premier admitted the situation was “absolutely tragic” but said her hands were tied by national guidelines on hotel quarantine.
However, she did allow a sliver of hope to shine through for the stranded couple.
“If the Federal Government wants to talk to both states, I’m happy to facilitate that,” she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a letter shared online overnight, chided Queensland authorities for their handling of the situation, saying Mr Kilian had done “everything you possibly can” to see his dying father. Frans Kilian, 80, was moved to hospital last week as his pancreatic cancer worsened.
“We didn’t think he was going to make it through yesterday, I think he’d been holding on for us to get there,” Mr Kilian told 9News last week
“When he heard we weren’t coming he just took a turn.”
Mr Morrison said having farewelled his father last year, he knew how important times like these were to families, which was why the Department of Home Affairs granted an exemption for the couple to travel to Australia.
“I know what an important time this is for you and that you can never get these days back,” he said in a letter to Mr Kilian dated June 22.
“I am disappointed the Queensland Government has not found a workable and compassionate solution.
“However, the Australian Government does not have authority to step in and provide exemptions from hotel quarantine for travel into Queensland. Under our federation, these decisions are made by the Queensland Government.”