The Queensland Government has granted a health exemption to a couple stranded in Sydney hotel quarantine to visit a dying family member after denying them multiple times.
It comes after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was willing to let a couple into the state if NSW Health could tell them how the pair will safely travel across the border.
“We have issued an exemption to Mark Kilian and his partner, subject to NSW finalising arrangement of safe transfer of the couple to Queensland,” a Queensland Health statement tonight read.
“All quarantine exemption requests are considered on a case-by-case basis, in line with current national guidelines.
“It has been a nationally agreed position that all international arrivals must complete 14 days of quarantine in their port of arrival.”
One 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.
Earlier today, Ms Palaszczuk told reporters it was “a matter for the NSW Government”.
“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 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 own 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.”
On Tuesday, Ms Palaszczuk 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.
“But this [hotel quarantine] applies to everybody. This applies to everyone. Every single person.”
Mr Kilian feared if he and his wife were made to complete their two weeks in hotel quarantine, he wouldn’t get to say goodbye to his father.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian previously asked her counterparts to show compassion on border exemptions, calling for decisions about reuniting families to be based on “human dignity”.
“My heart breaks when I hear about stories like this,” she said, while refusing to intervene in individual cases.
“New South Wales has always tried to have a compassionate approach especially when there are circumstances such as this one.
“I just ask all of my colleagues to think carefully before preventing families from being united at a very difficult time.”