Grieving family victims of quarantine hypocrisy

 

A grieving daughter is being forced to organise her parents' funeral from a hotel room, powerless and isolated, with just 12 floors and a "political game" standing between their final goodbyes.

Newcastle resident Linda Smith's parents, John and Carol Kayes, were killed in a horrific crash at Mount Surround on September 13 when their car was hit head-on by another vehicle.

Ms Smith said the state government's strict COVID-19 quarantine laws were "inhumane" and lacked basic compassion, making the toughest time of her life even worse.

"My parents are sitting in a freezer while a political game is going on behind the scenes," she said. "They are not looking at the human impact of these decisions."

 

Carol and John Kayes would be celebrating their 52-year wedding anniversary in November.
Carol and John Kayes would be celebrating their 52-year wedding anniversary in November.

 

Ms Smith applied for an exemption to enter Queensland without having to quarantine the day after her parents were killed, but was shut down without the explanation she believes she deserves.

Heartbroken and confused, Ms Smith flew to Townsville, where she is now spending her seventh day in mandatory hotel quarantine.

 

The horror crash which killed Carol and John Kayes. Picture: Alix Sweeney
The horror crash which killed Carol and John Kayes. Picture: Alix Sweeney

 

Her niece and nephew, Chloe and Brodie Osborne, joined her in isolation on Sunday, after flying from the Australian Capital Territory.

"The grief and the pain we are feeling is heartbreak, our human rights have been taken away," Ms Smith said.

"To lose both of them is such a shock and not something you're going to get over anytime soon … I am feeling angry rather than celebrating their lives.

"I wouldn't do this to my worst enemy."

Ms Smith and her family tested negative to COVID-19 before their flight to the region on Wednesday, when they were quickly ushered into quarantine at Hotel Grand Chancellor.

 

Linda Smith and Brodie and Chloe Osborne quarantined at the Hotel Grand Chancellor. Picture: Evan Morgan
Linda Smith and Brodie and Chloe Osborne quarantined at the Hotel Grand Chancellor. Picture: Evan Morgan

 

Both New South Wales and the ACT have been declared COVID-19 hot spots by the state government, although it has been more than four weeks since there was an active case at Newcastle and more than 11 weeks since a case in ACT.

The government recently announced the ACT would be taken off the list as of Friday, but that was too late for the Osbornes.

"It feels like we are not people to the state anymore," Chloe Osborne said.

"It's like all of our emotions are on hold."

Ms Smith's family is the second to endure this intransigence in Townsville, after Victorian woman Sheryl Mulvey was denied attending her grandson's funeral.

The sad tale comes less than a month after two Victorian workers were granted exemptions from border restrictions for the Jeff Horn fight.

Ms Smith said the hypocrisy "chewed" her up.

"We have photos to go through, speeches to make and that's excluding me from this process," Ms Smith said.

>>> Sign the family's petition here.

 

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington called for consistency, compassion and common sense for funeral exemptions. Picture: Evan Morgan
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington called for consistency, compassion and common sense for funeral exemptions. Picture: Evan Morgan

 

Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said the family's situation broke her heart.

"For months I've called for consistency, compassion and common sense for funeral exemptions from Annastacia Palaszczuk," she said.

"The Palaszczuk Labor Government rolls out the red carpet for Tom Hanks, sports stars and AFL VIPs but won't allow families to grieve together at a funeral."

A spokesman for the Premier said she did not make exemption decisions.

"The Premier has publicly acknowledged the difficult and extraordinary circumstances that many families find themselves in," the spokesman said.

"However, the Premier does not make decisions about exemptions. These are decisions made by the Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young."

A Queensland Health spokesman said they were trying keep people safe.

"We know this is tough, but this about preventing more people dying," the spokesman said.

"We've seen what happens when things don't go right in other states and other countries, and we're working so hard to protect Queenslanders from those consequences - we acknowledge that this comes at a cost to some people."

A date for the funeral is yet to be set to ensure Ms Smith and her family can attend.

Originally published as Grieving family victims of quarantine hypocrisy


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