OUR SAY: QLD border restrictions right move, but bad look
IF I LIVED in Queensland, I'd want Annastacia Palaszczuk to keep the borders locked as tight as possible.
It seems most of her constituents do too, with opinion polls happy to keep the infected waves out of their state.
Let's face it, New South Wales should've done it earlier too. With the horse already bolted in Melbourne, if we'd have closed the gate earlier it'd be likely there'd be no Crossroads Hotel cluster, and we could all go about our business.
It's only for the extraordinary work that our contact tracers have done that has kept it bubbling beneath the surface.
I get that business is hurting, and I get that it'd be bad to live on the border (isn't it hard enough with Queensland refusing to budge on daylight savings?), but the only way you can guarantee to not have to lock down your state for six-plus weeks is to just say 'no' to people.
It's the way to win the battle.
However, this is a war, and while I'm fully supportive of the lockdown battle, the premier is losing me on the war.
With every system, there's always a few chinks in the armour. But given the Queensland government is renowned for its intense focus on the southeast, you would've thought they'd envisage problems with the amount of people Northern NSW send over the border for essential services.
While we don't think twice about it, my Sydney relatives are horrified that we have to toddle over the border for anything remotely above a
broken bone or simple operation. It's just the done thing - three hours to the nearest specialist. Only three hours? No worries.
It started when all these people had to jump through hoops to get appointments. Not lifesaving appointments, just those ones we can't get here. Days of waiting, unanswered phone calls, confusing paperwork. The groundwork was laid.
Then came the stories of separation. Babies being separated from their mothers, confusion at the border as to whether they can see children, and even deaths because of mix-ups.
Suddenly the blame games start. It's not the premier's decision, it's the chief health officer's. Rules are rules. It goes on.
It's getting ugly, right? And while Queensland is standing strong, and their people stand behind their government, the images of sick people will just keep stacking up from this side of the border.
It'll only get worse, from forcing a woman to gown up to see her dead father, but not attend the funeral, to charging a family to see their dying parent, and on it goes.
We often complain that governing now is more about optics than actual politics, and these are terrible optics.
These are unprecedented times, but it's going to end eventually, and what will we be left with? Yes, Queensland was protected, but they had to be cruel to those who needed help the most. It's an image that will stick in my mind forever.
And the political opportunists are coming out of the woodwork, mind you. Everyone from the prime minister down is having a swing at the Queensland situation, when they're not bagging out the Victorian response.
Surely these sorts of things are better left behind closed doors, though? Noone likes to see mum and dad fight, and slanging matches in the middle of a crisis doesn't make anyone feel more secure about their leader.
Our Federal leadership on both sides should also look to their recent record on locking refugees in cages before they start making any complaints about how people are being treated. A convenient hypocrisy.
What needs to be done? For starters, waive the fee on quarantine for those who have genuine compassionate needs. That would solve 99 per cent of the problem.
Who can afford $3000 per person, give or take? It's not like we have that sort of cash lying around, and if it's going to coincide with a death, or other medical drama in life, it's probably the last thing people should be worried about.
I remember when the government withdrew the cost of hotel quarantine, people said that it was about time, and that the dirty people should have to pay their own way. Fine, until you realise that it makes quarantine a deterrent, and not something we should be encouraging people to do. We want people to do the right thing, and not, say, sneak in the boot of a car, right?
So if we pay for the quarantine, and then allow them to leave as soon as required (which is the current policy), I think we'd get rid of any doubts or hassles. Then, with less people who need special exemptions, more compassion can be shown for them, without destroying the good work quarantine is doing.
It might just help us win the war, and come out of this together.