Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce has slammed Queensland’s hard border measures as a “sham” after US actor Tom Hanks was allowed to enter the state to finish shooting a film.
Speaking on Seven’s Sunrise on Monday morning, Mr Joyce said it was “illogical” Hanks, who had been treated for COVID-19 in a Gold Coast hospital in March, was given approval to enter the state.
Hanks, 63, returned to Australia earlier this month to finish shooting an Elvis Presley movie directed by Baz Luhrmann, quarantining at a Gold Coast hotel with 11 other family, cast members and production staff.
Their entry was approved by the federal home affairs department at the request of the Queensland government.
“You have the AFL in there at first class, Tom Hanks in there, his offsiders in there, but we can’t get a person across to see their dad buried,” Mr Joyce said.
“That is why people are upset … Personally, I think the whole thing is a sham.
“People in regional seats of Queensland are seeing it as a sham.”
“This whole Tom Hanks thing is completely illogical,” he said. “It’s in stark contrast to people who can’t go to funerals, and that’s what aggravates me so much,
The criticism comes as the state’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young has been placed under police protection after receiving death threats in the wake of the hardline border decisions.
Asked by reporters in Brisbane on Monday about the threats, Dr Young said it had taken an “enormous toll” on her.
“It has taken an enormous toll on me, but then this has taken an enormous toll on nearly every single person in our community.
“Every single person in our community in Queensland has had to give up an awful lot. And we can’t see a clear end to this.
Dr Young said it helped having the full support of the state government, and said taking long walks in the fresh air has certainly helped.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth acknowledged state authorities were split over whether internal borders should be open.
“That is largely related to risk tolerance and whether one is prepared to allow any possibility of COVID-19 entering into one state,” Dr Coatsworth told the ABC on Monday morning.
“We need to have these ongoing border discussions, they’re obviously a live issue.”
Flight Centre joins chorus of companies desperate for borders to open
Meanwhile, Flight Centre’s CEO Graham Turner has told ABC Breakfast Dr Young was “wrong” for keeping the borders shut.
“Queensland is in a very bad recession at the moment,” he said.
“Travel, tourism, airlines, airports are the worst affected but the whole of Queensland is in a recession.
“The basic thing is you can’t have an economic recovery plan that both parties are promoting without open borders. That’s what caused the recession in the first place.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to focus on adopting a definition of a coronavirus hotspot when he chairs a meeting of premiers and chief ministers later this week.
Dr Coatsworth said Victoria’s restrictions were clearly having the desired effect.
“That light of the end of the tunnel is growing bigger by the day,” he said.
However, Dr Coatsworth said the number of mystery cases in Victoria was still too high, and he wanted to see them reduced to single digits.