Tom Hanks doesn’t have to undergo hotel quarantine after flying into Queensland from the US, despite Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ‘double-standard’ border closures tearing families apart and leaving small towns without supplies.
Ms Palaszczuk copped fierce criticism for letting 400 AFL officials descend on the state ahead of the Grand Final, while repeatedly knocking back everyday Australians with health or family reasons.
The embattled premier took on a line-up of opposition MPs who grilled her in parliament on Wednesday about the consistency of her border rules designed to contain COVID-19 in southern states.
Liberal National Party MP Laura Gerber on Wednesday asked if the American movie star was in mandatory quarantine after flying into Gold Coast on Tuesday night.
Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive for COVID-19 and underwent 14 days of self-isolation on the Gold Coast in March, during the filming of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic.
The Hollywood couple’s diagnosis came after the couple met with several celebrities on the east coast, before Richard Wilkins also tested positive.
Tom Hanks arrived at at Coolangatta airport on Tuesday night. The 64-year-old won’t be subjected to mandatory hotel quarantine
Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed Tom Hanks was exempt from quarantine under the film industry’s COVID-safe plan
Tom Hanks was pictured with wife Rita Wilson in Bondi in March days before the couple tested positive for coronavirus
Ms Palaszczuk confirmed Hanks was exempt from quarantine under the film industry’s COVID-safe plan.
‘Under that plan they have to stay in the place for two weeks just like everybody else and they will have random checks, as my understanding, by the police,’ she told parliament.
‘I’ve had discussion with Mayor Tom Tate to find out how we can have more production on the Gold Coast because other countries are shut down because of COVID.’
Currumbin LNP MP Laura Gerber, who was one of the MPs questioning the premier over her border closures, was ordered to leave the floor for an hour after several interjections.
Ms Palaszczuk says the film will bring more than $100million and 900 jobs into the Gold Coast economy.
She defended the border policy as recommended by Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young, saying if it wasn’t in place Queensland could be in a situation like Victoria.
‘I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know if all this could be at risk if at the end of October, if the LNP is in office and the borders are open,’ she said.
Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson (pictured) tested positive for COVID-19 and underwent 14 days of self-isolation on the Gold Coast in March, during the filming of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic
The premier’s special treatment of Hanks is likely to stir up even more criticism, after a Queensland grandmother was forced to recover from brain surgery in a quarantine hotel.
Jayne Brown, 60, spent two weeks confined to a tiny hotel room in Brisbane following her recent return from Sydney, where renowned neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo 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.
Not even a letter from Dr Teo himself could convince Queensland officials to change their mind and allow Ms Brown and her husband to isolate at their home.
Instead, she struggled through hotel confinement in agony unable to walk and limited access to pain relief.
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.’
Ms Palaszczuk was slammed last week for saying Queensland’s hospitals were ‘for our people only’.
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.
Speaking on Today on Wednesday, Ms Berejiklian (pictured) said there was no health basis to keeping the Queensland border shut
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.
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 had said last week while she was not aware of the specifics of the case, the decision about who to let into Queensland would be made by health professionals, not politicians.
‘People living in NSW have NSW hospitals. In Queensland, we have Queensland hospitals for our people,’ she said.
The premier’s no-nonsense stance on border closures have also left a small drought-stricken town without any supplies.
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
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been criticised for easing her strict border controls to welcome the officials and their loved ones from coronavirus-riddled Victoria
Jayne Brown (pictured) was denided an exemption to self-isolate at her Sunshine Coast home
A fire tore through Mungindi, on both sides of the Queensland and New South Wales border, last week – wiping out its only supermarket and butcher.
But due to border closures, locals have been forced to leave their border bubble to get essentials, or travel 160km to the nearest supermarket.
Moree Plains Shire Mayor Katrina Humphries said Mungindi’s 600 locals would be forced to leave their border bubble to travel to Mooree to buy supplies.
‘Although we are in the shire we aren’t all in the bubble, only selected postcodes have been included in it,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘It’s completely split our shire. I’ve spoken to elderly people who are so frightened that they can’t get into Moree to go to the shops because then they’ll break the travel bubble.’
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday admitted she ‘does begrudge’ Ms Palaszczuk of her decision to keep the southern border shut.
Australian state border restrictions
Victoria: Completely open, but other states are banning residents from going there
NSW: Border with Victoria is closed but others are open without restriction
Queensland: Open to everywhere but Victoria, NSW, and the ACT
Northern Territory: Open to everywhere but Victoria and Sydney, which must do hotel quarantine
South Australia: Closed to Victoria, NSW arrivals must self-isolate, rest are open
Tasmania: Closed to Victoria, everywhere else must do hotel quarantine
Western Australia: Closed to everywhere without an exemption
Speaking on Today on Wednesday, Ms Berejiklian said there was no health basis to keeping the border restrictions.
‘I do begrudge her because the situation has got very low community transmission,’ Ms Berejikilian said.
‘And NSW has shown that you can have open borders.’
Tensions between the two leaders have been simmering for months over Queensland’s decision to keep the southern border closed.
Ms Berejiklian said a number of Queensland residents were in New South Wales hotels under quarantine with COVID-19.
She claimed if NSW had high numbers like Victoria then closing the border was a sensible measure, however, states with a confident health system and low numbers should not be isolated.
‘When the case numbers are so low at this stage and yes, it’s a daily battle, why would you close your borders? Why would you hurt your businesses and jobs in your own state?’
The eight new cases in Queensland brings the number of active cases in the state to 29. Since the pandemic began there have been 1143 confirmed cases in the state, six of therm deadly.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also criticised Ms Palaszczuk’s major coup in securing the AFL grand final, accusing her of favouring sporting stars over desperate families needing to cross the border for medical reasons.
The Queensland Premier proudly announced that she’d secured the landmark match on Tuesday alongside AFL CEO Gil McLachlan, who was granted an exemption to fly in to the Sunshine State for the announcement.
But Mr Frydenberg, along with hordes of others, have argued the celebrations were insensitive to families who had been barred from entering Queensland.
‘I think the Queensland Premier has got some questions to answer here,’ he told A Current Affair.
‘How can it be okay for people to go up to prepare for a footy game, and its not okay to go to hospital for treatment?’