Brisbane father Mark, 39, was diagnosed a month ago with an inoperable cancer and is not expected to live until Christmas – but only one of his children has been given permission to cross into Queensland and say goodbye
Karl Stefanovic begged the Queensland Premier to grant an exemption to the family of a dying dad who were told only one of his four children could cross the border to say goodbye to him.
Mark Keans’ family made the excruciating decision not to travel to Queensland after the government refused to grant them all access into the Sunshine State.
The 39-year-old’s family applied for a border exemption a month ago, immediately after he was diagnosed with stage four terminal cancer in his brain and lungs.
Mr Keans, a truck driver from Brisbane, is not expected to make it to Christmas, and yet Queensland Health have so far denied requests from his Sydney-based family to fly in to be by his side in his final moments.
Authorities proposed allowing one of his children – all of whom are under the age of 13 – to see their father for a supervised one-hour visit before going back across the border.
But on Thursday, the Today show reported the family had collectively decided against that option.
‘The family have had a discussion and they’ve decided that, if they all can’t go say goodbye, none of them will because how could they possibly choose just one child?’ reporter Jess Millward said.
Stefanovic got emotional when he learned of the outcome, and issued a direct plea to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to right the situation before it was too late.
Mr Keans pictured with his children (L-R) Noah 13, Caitlyn 11, Caleb 11, and Isaac, 7. The father’s sister said allowing just one child an hour-long visit to see their father would do more harm than good
‘It’s crazy that we’re even having this discussion… I’ve supported her strength in the face of massive criticism, but this is a no brainer,’ Stefanovic said after speaking with Mr Keans’ father, Bruce Langborne.
‘When you have a family choosing which child should say goodbye to their father, its gone too far.
‘Grant the exemption. The premier is not heartless, but she needs to streamline this process while protective Queenslanders. There is a medium, find it. Let these kids say goodbye and let a dying man say goodbye.’
Mr Langborne revealed Thursday is actually Mr Keans’ twin’s 11th birthday.
Mr Keans is no longer at a hospital in Brisbane. Instead, he decided to return home and seek palliative chemotherapy to ease his suffering in his final months.
His father appeared on the program a day after speaking with Daily Mail Australia to explain that Mr Keans is ‘crook as a dog’ after his last round of chemotherapy.
‘What we’ve been told is we had too many people trying to come up,’ he explained.
‘Two, we weren’t allowed to drive, we had to fly in, then we probably wouldn’t get out of the airport anyway. They’d send us back.
Stefanovic got emotional when he learned of the outcome, and issued a direct plea to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to right the situation before it was too late
‘Three, by us wanting to come and see Mark, we’re being selfish and not taking any thought as to the welfare of the other cancer patients.’
Mr Langborne said the decision to choose one child to say goodbye just proved too difficult.
‘We’ve said none. We could not pick one over the others,’ he said. ‘Its impossible. Every one of them deserves it. It’s easier to pick the adults, but impossible to pick between the children,’ he said.
On Monday, Mr Keans’ 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.
The other option presented to Mr Keans’ relatives was for them to quarantine in Queensland for two weeks – but Ms Langborne said the family simply could not afford the cost involved in putting up 11 people in a hotel for that length of time.
Queensland’s quarantine fees are $2,800 for one adult, $3,710 for two adults, and $4,620 for two adults and two children.
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 of Mr Keans’ children are under the age of 13 and are ‘desperate’ to see him before he dies
‘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,’ she said.
‘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.’
Queensland Health will not comment on individual cases, but insisted all decisions were made in the best interests of the community.
We understand and sympathise that this a very difficult time and there are challenges. Queensland’s current border restriction are in place for one purpose – to save lives,’ a statement from Queensland Health 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.’
The family’s anguish comes as Ms Palaszczuk cops fierce criticism for letting 400 AFL officials enter the state ahead of the Grand Final, while repeatedly knocking back ordinary Australians who want to seek out medical care or see family over the border.
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.
Meanwhile Bruce Langborne 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 desperately want to see him,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
Pictured: Mr Keans’ four children. Queensland’s quarantine fees are $4,620 for two adults and two children. Getting all 11 members of the father’s close family across the border was financially beyond them
‘They [Queensland authorities] said we were being selfish and weren’t thinking of the other cancer patients.’
Mr Langborne said the family had no idea how they would choose one child to cross the border.
‘The only option is one adult and one child,’ he said. ‘We’d be chaperoned up there and chaperoned back.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted NSW Health for comment.
The family’s case was raised in Queensland parliament on Tuesday 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 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.
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.
Lake Macquarie couple Laura Goff, 29, and Chris Bennett, 27, welcomed their daughter Adalyn (pictured together) to the world in July
‘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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Jayne Brown (pictured) was denied an exemption to self-isolate at her Sunshine Coast home
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
‘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.
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.