A Queensland MP is on the war path after authorities canned a 15-year-old Anzac Day flyover because of coronavirus restrictions.
Opposition MP David Crisafulli wants Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to intervene to save a tradition he says is “zero risk” when it comes to coronavirus.
The row erupted after Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young refused to let the Warbirds Group at Caboolture Aerodrome honour veterans on Saturday.
Mr Crisafulli has written to Dr Young, seeking to have the decision overturned. He said he could not fathom how the flyover had been refused a coronavirus exemption when it involved four pilots, separately flying World War II-era planes that are kept in separate hangars.
“There is no interaction, there is no risk,” he said.
“It is our nation’s most special day and I just think it’s bureaucratic overreach.
“I would like to think the Premier will look at this and say ‘there is no risk’ and [intervene] for the sake of our veterans. [For] many this will be the highlight of their day.”
He said the distance between the pilots and people on the ground would exceed the 1.5 metres required by social distancing.
“When a decision is taken that has absolutely no connection with reality, you’ve got to stand up and call it for what it is,” the MP told radio broadcaster Alan Jones.
“This is punch-drunk bureaucrats who are power hungry and it needs to be called out.”
But Dr Young in standing firm.
“Any determination around non-essential business activity on this special day is difficult,” she said.
She said there were other ways to mark Anzac Day, including the Light up the Dawn initiative, which encourages people to pay tribute from their driveways, balconies and front porches.
She said that was the safest way to commemorate the day in 2020.
“There is no health risk for someone getting in a plane, of course there isn’t,” she said.
“But the health risk is if one person does that, then someone else will say ‘well maybe there’s no health risk if I go on a drive through, if I do this’.”
David Crowe, from the Warbirds Group, later told the ABC he had explained to authorities exactly what was planned.
“We did set down what we were planning to do and they said because of COVID-19 restrictions our application was unsuccessful,” he said.
“We accepted that (decision) and obviously were disappointed.”
He said Mr Crisafulli – a Gold Coast-based MP – heard about the situation and decided to step in to see if he could save an event that has been held since 2005.
“This is the first time we have had to cancel,” Mr Crowe said.