Scott Morrison has hit back at Annastacia Palaszczuk after she accused the Prime Minister of bullying her to let a woman skip quarantine to attend her father’s funeral.
Mr Morrison called the Queensland Premier to ask for an exemption to allow Sarah Caisip to join her family at her father Bernard’s memorial service in Brisbane.
Despite Mr Morrison’s input, the 26-year-old was denied the chance to join her grieving family and instead had a private viewing on her own after the funeral.
Ms Palaszczuk lashed out at the PM in parliament after the phone call, claiming he tried to intimidate and bully her into bending the rules for Ms Caisip.
Mr Morrison responded to her claims on Sky News on Thursday night.
Scott Morrison (pictured) said he doesn’t care that Annastacia Palaszczuk accused him of bullying
‘I don’t really care what they say about me,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘It’s not about me. It’s not about her. It was about Sarah. It was about Isobel. It was about Myrna. And and it was about Bernard [Ms Caisip’s family]. That’s the only stuff that mattered today.
‘It wasn’t about borders. It wasn’t about whether they should be up or down. It wasn’t even about jobs today. And jobs are incredibly important, as you know. But this was just one day I had hoped that something different could be done.’
Mr Morrison noted Ms Caisip’s case was not isolated and said there must be a better way to deal with special exemptions amid coronavirus restrictions.
‘I’ve seen the images of when she went to see her dad and there’ve been some shocking days during the course of this pandemic. And today was, today just hurt,’ he said.
‘Those who have decided these measures are necessary, that they’ve got to find a better way to deal with with the heart here.
‘I’ve dealt with many Premiers on many, many different issues all the time. I’ve dealt with the Queensland Premier on other issues. Sadly, today, I didn’t have the influence that I would hope to have.
‘But Sarah doesn’t get today back. She never gets it back. And that just fills my heart with sadness.’
Sarah Caisip (pictured) was denied a quarantine exemption from the Queensland government to attend her father Bernard’s funeral in Brisbane on Thursday
Mr Morrison said he had raised more than 40 different cases with Ms Palaszczuk to no avail and was astounded with the decision made for Ms Caisip.
‘I’m just mystified at the discretion not exercised today. It’s within their gift. It was in their gift. And the gift was denied,’ he said.
Ms Caisip is a registered nurse and based in Canberra, where there hasn’t been a single case of coronavirus for more than 60 days.
Mr Morrison said leaders need to unite to sort through issues and maintain humanity in the face of the deadly disease.
‘I believe people during COVID, they’re all trying to do the best they can. But when the rules are written in such a way that officials are following them and the way they are being asked to follow them, then that is the great loss that has suffered,’ he said.
‘We are going to lose so much as a result of this this dreadful virus. And we’re all sick to the back teeth of this thing. I just don’t want us to lose any more than we have to.
‘And whether that’s our humanity or whether that’s our kid’s schooling or whether it’s that last hug or embrace or whatever it is, I just refused to allow that to be lost to this virus wherever it is avoidable.’
Ms Palaszczuk said the prime minister and state opposition are using people’s personal tragedies involving border restrictions to subject her to bullying.
Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) said the PM tried to intimidate her into bending quarantine rules
She lashed out at Mr Morrison after Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington asked her about Ms Caisip’s case in state parliament on Thursday.
‘It is absolutely not acceptable for the leader of the opposition to do what she is doing today: a co-ordinated campaign with the prime minister’s office is disgusting and it is demeaning,’ Ms Palaszczuk said.
‘I would hope that the prime minister would work in a co-operative matter with everyone across this country and this divisiveness, and these fights, and this intimidation, and this bullying is the worst I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.’
Ms Palaszczuk reiterated the state’s chief health officer was in charge of assessing medical exemptions to cross the border.
She said the state’s hospitals were already treating 1,000 NSW residents a week but admitted that many people were missing funerals.
‘Around the world, we have seen bodies being buried in the pits … where no families have been able to say goodbye,’ the premier said.
‘This is a world pandemic, this is not the time to carry on like this, this is a time when every single person in this country should be working together and this politics of division is disgusting and disgraceful.’
Ms Caisip is seen wearing a face mask and protective shield as she leaves her father Bernard’s service in Brisbane on Thursday