‘Double standards’: MP slams Health Minister’s CQ visit
STATE Health Minister Steven Miles and Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young have come under fire after they travelled to Central Queensland this week.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry called upon the pair to justify both the reason and decision making behind their visit during strict nationwide COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The duo fronted media in Rockhampton on Wednesday, announcing up to $96 million in additional funding to Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services as the state ramps up its virus management plan.
Both then travelled south of Rockhampton on Thursday to reveal the state government's acquisition of Gladstone Mater Hospital in a bid to expand public health services in the region.
However Ms Landry questioned whether the Minister and Health Officer's travel to the region was essential, adding she believed there was a double standard for state politicians.
"It is absolutely mind-boggling to me why this sort of travel was even allowed to proceed. It is in direct contradiction of the health advice given," Ms Landry said.
"Starting their trip from Brisbane which is the epicentre of the state's high number of coronavirus cases has put regional Queenslanders' health and wellbeing at risk."
But Mr Miles hit back at Ms Landry.
"We take very seriously ensuring that all of our regions are well prepared for COVID-19. This is not just a battle in Brisbane or the south-east, we need to ensure that our entire hospital system is ready."
Ms Young said she believed travelling in her role was critical in terms of identifying what hospitals across the state needed.
"I don't know all the issues across the state unless I'm out there asking," she said.
Ms Landry also voiced her disappointment in Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga for not putting a stop to the visit of Mr Miles and Ms Young.
"Both the Member for Rockhampton and the Member for Keppel seem to think Central Queensland is immune from the coronavirus - I can tell you right now that it is not," Ms Landry said.
"After all of their bluster around increased travel restrictions within the state, it seems like they are still beholden to their Brisbane masters."
Mr O'Rourke defended the pair's travel, taking to Facebook to offer an explanation.
"As the person leading the response, Dr Young believed it was necessary for herself and the Minister to visit Rockhampton Hospital to meet with the leaders of our local health service to make sure they are getting it right and have everything they need."
He said while virtual meetings were great, there was sometimes no substitute for "in person contact" as crucial information could be missed.
"To suggest that Dr Young is being somehow reckless or doesn't understand the importance of social distancing is disrespectful and, frankly, offensive," Mr O'Rourke said.
"To be launching a naked political attack on her at a time like this is even worse."
Ms Lauga shared similar sentiments.
"I think it's incredibly important for them to undertake their travel to Rockhampton," she said.
"They determined it was important to visit and ground truth of the plans, I'm not going to put a stop to them visiting the region."
Currently all travel by air or road must be deemed essential.
People found to be partaking in any non-essential travel can be subject to $1300 on-the-spot fines, or up $13,000 if you go to court.