Interstate relatives of Craftsman Brendon Payne, a soldier who lost his life in a truck rollover south of Townsville, are pleading with the Queensland government for an exemption to attend his funeral.
Craftsman Payne died alongside Warrant Officer Second Class Ryan Leslie when their vehicle rolled over on a public road near the Townsville Field Training Area on Monday.
Family members in COVID-19 hotspots are seeking exemptions to attend Craftsman Payne’s funeral, but Queensland has a hard border with NSW, the ACT and Victoria barring travellers from those areas.
“You just can’t believe it, it’s just so dumbfounding,” Craftsman Payne’s NSW-based grandmother Denise told Nine Network on Friday.
“I reckon it would be really, really hard … knowing he was being buried and we couldn’t be there.
“Please Annastacia [Palaszczuk] will you let my daughter and I come to Queensland for my grandson’s funeral?”
Craftsman Payne’s grandmother, and his aunt Leanne, said they are fully vaccinated and would travel from Newcastle to Brisbane directly to minimise any risk to the community.
They fear they will miss the funeral altogether if asked to undertake hotel quarantine.
“We’re not asking to go up for a holiday, we just want to bury our boy,” Leanne said.
“We’re not asking to go and stop at restaurants, meals and stop anywhere.”
Meanwhile, federal Member for Herbert, Phillip Thompson, has personally offered to drive the family from the border to the funeral and back, then undertake two weeks of quarantine.
Mr Thompson, a defence veteran, said he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get the family to the funeral.
“I’m asking for the premier to give an exemption to one of Australia’s most brave, who put themselves in harm’s way, whether that is here in Australia or on operation,” Mr Thompson said.
“We can’t have Australian soldiers who have tragically died, their families be treated so poorly.”
“We’re asking the premier to support us and allow [the family] to travel into Queensland to bury their loved one.”
Craftsman Payne, 29, joined the army in March 2020, served for one year and five months and was a member of the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
Warrant Officer Leslie, 40, served for 22 years and two months and was also a member of the electrical and mechanical engineers.