A family desperate to see their loved one in Queensland after he was given just months to live will be allowed to enter the state to say goodbye – but will need to stump up $16,000 in hotel quarantine fees.
Health authorities had earlier said only one of Brisbane father Mark Keans’ four Sydney-based children – all of whom are under the age of 13 – could cross the border to see him one last time as he battles terminal cancer in his brain and lungs.
Queensland Health did not at first respond to multiple requests for an exemption from the truck driver’s family, but have now told them they can drive into the state and pay for two weeks quarantine in a Brisbane hotel.
But the 11 close family members of Mr Keans, 39, will first have to pay the eye-watering fees to ensure they do not have COVID-19 before entering the Queensland community.
The state’s standard quarantine fees are $4,620 for two adults and two children.
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Mark Keans – who has terminal cancer – pictured with his children (L-R) Noah 13, Caitlyn 11, Caleb 11, and Isaac, 7. His family have been quoted $16,000 in quarantine fees to travel to Queensland to say goodbye to him
Mr Keans was diagnosed a month ago with an inoperable cancer and is not expected to live until Christmas. Earlier, his family were told only one of his children would be given permission to cross into Queensland to see him in his final moments
His family’s desperation has prompted a wave of donations to a GoFundMe page set up to support their bid to get across the border – with $205,000 raised in four hours by Friday morning despite them setting a fundraising goal of just $30,000.
Costs will also include taxi transfer to visit the father at his home – where his family will be escorted by government staff and have to wear full personal protective equipment.
‘My wife told the Queensland Health person “this is ridiculous – its going to cost more to quarantine than it will to bury my son”,’ Mr Keans’ father Bruce Langborne told Daily Mail Australia.
‘At least they spoke to us but we didn’t get anywhere – this is only a suggestion as well and nothing has been confirmed yet.’
Mr Langborne said his local member of parliament had been far more supportive of their situation – even offering to fly his son to New South Wales by air ambulance so he could be with his family.
‘We understand and sympathise that this is a very difficult time and there are challenges,’ a Queensland Health spokeswoman said.
‘We are in the midst of a global pandemic and we need to protect our communities, especially the most vulnerable members of the community.
‘We understand the health directions in place are strict, but they are designed to protect Queenslanders from COVID-19.’
New South Wales Health had previously proposed allowing one of his children to see their father for a supervised one-hour visit before going back across the border.
But his sister Tam Langborne told Daily Mail Australia the family were at a loss deciding which of the kids would get to see their father in his final moments.
‘The youngest of the children is only seven years old. I think sending him by himself to see his Dad for an hour would do a lot more damage than good,’ she said.
‘I understand the reasons behind the border closure but what hurts the most is actors and sporting teams get a free ride to go into Queensland because they have a name.
Mr Keans’ sister said the family simply could not afford the cost involved in putting up 11 people in a hotel for two weeks
‘All we want to do is sit with our brother and say thanks for a good life and for the kids to see him for the last time.’
Their anguish comes as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk cops fierce criticism for letting 400 AFL officials enter the state ahead of the Grand Final, while repeatedly knocking back everyday Australians with health or family reasons.
US movie star Tom Hanks will not have to undergo hotel quarantine after flying into Queensland from the US – with Ms Palaszczuk saying Hanks was exempt because of the industry’s COVID-safe plan.
All of Mr Keans’ children are under the age of 13 and are ‘desperate’ to see him before he dies
Mr Keans’ father said officials had even told him his family were being selfish for wanting to get all four of the children across the border as they were putting other cancer patients at risk.
‘They [Queensland authorities] said we were being selfish and weren’t thinking of the other cancer patients,’ Mr Langborne said.
He added the family had no idea how they would choose one child to cross the border.
Pictured: Mr Keans’ four children. Queensland’s quarantine fees are $4,620 for two adults and two children.
‘The only option is one adult and one child,’ he said. ‘We’d be chaperoned up there and chaperoned back.’
The family’s case was raised in Queensland parliament by Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington as New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian hit out at the northern state’s border policies.
‘Our nation needs to deal with the pandemic… we’re Australians as well as living in NSW and a lot of families aren’t able to see each other,’ she said.
Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson (pictured) won’t be subjected to mandatory hotel quarantine because the film industry has a COVID-safe plan
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard also hit out at Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on the subject of families being separated on either side of the border.
‘I can only express my anger, my supreme anger, at the Queensland Premier’s decision which in my view broadly across the border currently is nothing more than base, loopy politics,’ he said.
‘I’m appalled by what’s going on up there’.
The Langborne family are not alone, with dozens more falling victim to Palaszczuk’s hardline stance on her border.
One Queensland grandmother was forced to recover from brain surgery in a quarantine hotel after the operation in Sydney.
The children’s grandfather Bruce Langborne (pictured) said officials had even told him his family were being selfish as bringing all four of them across would put other cancer patients at risk
Jayne Brown, 60, spent two weeks confined to a tiny hotel room in Brisbane following the surgery by renowned neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo – who removed two large tumours on her brain.
The grandmother-of-seven requested an exemption from hotel quarantine to self-isolate at home on the Sunshine Coast, but was rejected twice.
She blasted the Queensland premier, who allowed 400 AFL players and officials from coronavirus-riddled Victoria to enter the state last Tuesday night.
‘I don’t understand it, mind-blowing,’ Ms Brown told Nine News last week.
Meanwhile, a young mother with a newborn baby has been left in limbo over when she will next be reunited with her mine worker husband due to Queensland’s strict border restrictions.
Laura Goff, 29, and Chris Bennett, 27, welcomed their daughter Adalyn at the end of July in Wangi Wangi, Lake Macquarie, NSW.
But six weeks later, Mr Bennett, a fitter in mines at Moranbah in North Queensland, was forced to leave his loved ones behind to return to his week-on-week-off work schedule in North Queensland.
Lake Macquarie couple Laura Goff, 29, and Chris Bennett, 27, welcomed their daughter Adalyn (pictured together) to the world in July
Queensland’s mandatory $2,800 two-week hotel quarantine for anyone entering the state from NSW will make it impossible for the young father to return to see his family during his days off.
Ms Goff doesn’t even know when she will see her husband again, and is grappling with raising and watching seven-week-old daughter Adalyn meet milestones on her own.
‘I try not to get too caught up in the fact that he works away because that’s entirely our choice, but it is hard knowing that I don’t know when he is going to come back,’ she told the Newcastle Herald.
‘He usually comes back and we get a full week of family stuff, but we just don’t get that at the moment.’
A heavily pregnant mother was also forced to wait 16 hours for emergency surgery in Sydney after being turned away at the Queensland border, before losing one of her unborn twin babies.
A heavily pregnant mother was forced to wait 16 hours for emergency surgery in Sydney after being turned away at the Queensland border, before losing one of her unborn twin babies
Ms Palaszczuk initially did not grant the seriously ill mum-to-be’s exemption despite her needing emergency surgery for the unborn twins.
The mother, from Ballina in New South Wales which is 88km from the Queensland border, had twins who were just 24 weeks along and needed urgent care.
She wasn’t initially granted an exemption to cross the border for surgery at the Gold Coast University Hospital 125km away and instead had to wait for 16 hours in Lismore for a flight to Sydney.
The woman’s father Allan Watt says one of the twins became anaemic during surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.
Mr Watt said the family were very upset about his daughter being denied an exemption.
Jayne Brown (pictured) was denided an exemption to self-isolate at her Sunshine Coast home
Queensland Chief Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the NSW woman’s exemption had been approved as soon as her application had been made.
Ms Palaszczuk defended her border restrictions as calls grow for New South Wales and Queensland residents to be able to cross the border freely.
‘We would not be in the situation we are today without the advice of the Chief Health Officer, under this government we will continue to accept and abide by her advice,’ she said.
Motorists are stopped at a checkpoint at Coolangatta on the Queensland – New South Wales border on August 7. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has defended her state’s strict entry restrictions – saying she too can’t visit her uncle who had lung cancer
Ms Palaszczuk also said she had sympathy for people unable to visit loved ones in hospital during the hard border lockdown and that she had been unable to visit her uncle when he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Queensland briefly reopened the state’s southern border in July before shutting again amid a spike in cases in New South Wales.
The Sunshine State recorded eight new coronavirus cases overnight, the state’s biggest daily rise in nearly five months while NSW confirmed an additional nine cases.