Queensland’s medical community has spoken out in support of the state’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young after revealing she has been subject to “online trolls” over recent decisions on quarantine exemptions for funerals.
AMA Queensland president Chris Perry said the state’s doctors “believe in the science of the Chief Health Officer, we believe Queensland should follow the advice of the Chief Health Officer and if she says the borders should stay closed, we think they should stay closed”.
“We have seen a lot of quite personal attacks on our Chief Health Officer — she’s a woman, she’s very highly qualified, the stress is on her and all we can say is back off, we think this Chief Health Officer is doing a great job,” Dr Perry said.
“Of the chief health officers in Australia, she is probably par excellence, she is probably the one they look up to the most.
“Leave her alone, she’s doing a good job, we support what she’s saying and doing.”
Queensland has recorded no new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, Health Minister Steven Miles confirmed this morning.
“A fantastic result and a credit to the efforts of every single Queenslander and, of course, our health workforce,” Mr Miles said.
There are now 30 ongoing active cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Mr Miles said the state had recorded a total of 1,149 cases.
The AMA spoke at Queensland’s daily COVID-19 media conference at the request of the Government, but Dr Perry said he was happy to do so to back Dr Young.
The move came a day after Mr Miles condemned what he called a “planned and orchestrated attack” on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk over the state’s refusal to allow a Canberra woman to leave hotel quarantine in Queensland and attend her father’s funeral.
Mr Miles said Queensland had businesses open and people back at work as a result of the state’s border and infection control measures.
“So it’s important to take health advice regardless of the pressure put on us,” he said.
‘Mostly online trolls’
Dr Perry said Dr Young had been under stress from the decisions she had been required to make.
“There are a lot of people asking for exemptions from quarantine or a different way of doing quarantine and she’s been very fair with that,” he said.
“It hasn’t just been footballers and wealthy people, she’s been listening to people all the way through and giving exemptions when she can when it’s safe for the rest of the state to have those exemptions carried through.”
Dr Perry said the Chief Health Officer’s critics were “mostly online trolls”.
“I know the Federal Government has a different point of view about borders, we don’t want to get into that — we follow what the Chief Health Officer says and we’ll leave it alone at that.
“But it’s mostly been online people, the bullying which occurs on social media these days, I know the Chief Health Officer gets quite a bit of that.”
Dr Young was not available for comment.
Travel firms want borders reopened
A group of travel and tourism corporations will target the Queensland election campaign, calling for the state’s border to fully reopen.
Flight Centre CEO Graham Turner is spearheading the campaign, targeting social and mass media in the weeks leading up to the October 31 poll.
Mr Turner said there was no reason to keep the border shut because outbreaks in Queensland and New South Wales were being managed well.
He said the campaign was not party-political.
“I certainly haven’t heard any strong commitment from the LNP. We would certainly be trying to influence them,” Mr Turner said.
“But we’re just as much trying to influence the Labor Government to open the borders pretty much straight away, particularly with New South Wales — there’s no reason at all for that to be closed.”
The Sunday Mail newspaper has reported the Flight Centre campaign would be supported by Qantas, Virgin and Helloworld Travel.
Mr Miles said the travel businesses had a right to further their economic interests, but the Government remained focused on health and jobs.
“If the boss of Qantas wanted to do more and show compassion for Australians, then he wouldn’t be gouging them tens of thousands of dollars just to come home,” Mr Miles said.
‘This is not health-related’
Speaking on the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton again criticised Queensland border closures he said were made “not for health reasons, not on health advice, but for political reasons”.
“The Premier is coming up to an election at the end of October and it’s the indiscriminate way that the laws are being applied as well, where you’ve got one rule for one person and a knock back for the next,” he said.
“I think that’s what has got the Premier into a lot of trouble. If this was one isolated case, that would be bad enough. But many of us have been dealing with multiple cases in our own constituencies, and to see people hurt in that way, it is very difficult to watch.
“This is not health-related and in actual fact, it’s creating more mental health issues in the community than already exist, and there are enough already in relation to people being locked down in the way in which they’ve had to change their lives.”
Last week, Mr Dutton also criticised the Queensland Government for granting a quarantine exemption to US actor Tom Hanks, so he could return to Australia to work.
The Queensland Government responded by saying it was Australian Border Force who granted Hanks the exemption.
Mr Dutton said Border Force made the decision “based on the letter of support from Queensland Health”.
Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive for coronavirus in March on the Gold Coast and were placed in isolation at the Gold Coast University Hospital, before later returning to the US.
‘Lost her moral compass’
Meanwhile, Palmer United Party founder Clive Palmer has released a statement condemning Dr Young for allowing Hanks into the state while grieving families were not allowed.
“The double standards being shown by the Queensland Labor Government are a disgrace,” Mr Palmer said.
“These senseless border closures are causing pain, suffering and economic turmoil.
“Jeannette Young needs to resign immediately as she has lost her moral compass.
“She knows she will never get another job as she has shown her complete lack of moral fibre.”