If there is an attribute that distinguishes an Australian it is our unique notion of a fair go.
We don’t like double standards.
We don’t like Johnny getting paid more than Jill for the same day’s work.
We don’t like Johnny Depp being able to bring in dogs while others butt against our tough quarantine laws.
That’s why there has been such a reaction to the Queensland Government’s decision to allow 400 AFL officials to fly in from Melbourne and avoid the normal quarantine rules, instead being able to spend two weeks at a resort on the Gold Coast. The government’s predicament wasn’t helped when two AFL stars were arrested outside a strip club.
We probably won’t find out why they couldn’t have just stayed inside their Playboystyle mansion that Queensland taxpayers are paying for. How much we are paying the AFL is also a question the Queensland Government refuses to answer. We all shake our heads at this monumental hypocrisy but there is a larger issue here.
In a normal year getting the AFL Grand Final to Brisbane would be great news for Queensland and the Government that achieved it. 2020 could be described with lots of adjectives but ’normal’; is not one of them.
This week we learnt that the Australian economy had its biggest drop in economic output on record.
This is not normal. We are fighting a once in a century health pandemic. This is not normal. And, Queensland, a state which is rich in natural resource and economic opportunity, has the highest unemployment rate in the country.
This is not normal. Why then has the Queensland Premier been wasting time negotiating a deal with AFL officials over a football game but not focused on how we can save lives and jobs.
This week it was revealed that the Queensland Premier had declined to speak to the NSW Premier for weeks even as case after heart-breaking case of people denied access to health services built up. Annastacia Palaszczuk did, however, find the time to have a ’secret’ meeting with AFL officials at a cafe near the Gabba.
While having these talks, a pregnant Ballina mum was forced to travel to Sydney - causing a 16-hour delay - after Annastacia Palaszczuk’s comment that Queensland hospitals were only for Queenslanders. That mum later lost her unborn child.
The Queensland Government had also told boarding school students that if they go home to rural New South Wales for school holidays (where there are no Covid cases), when they return they would have to do 14 days quarantine in a room alone with meals left outside. In what world would a government suggest that a 12 year old is forced into solitary confinement and treated like a prisoner? I have always supported border controls to control the coronavirus. Indeed, I have suggested that if community transmission in Brisbane gets worse we should restrict travel to and from North and Central Queensland to protect our safety.
But we shouldn’t implement border controls to protect health in a way which directly hurts people’s health by denying them access to hospital or forcing kids into isolation. There remains community transmission in Brisbane. Right now I don’t think it is at a stage that should restrict movement between Rockhampton and Brisbane. But is it a smart decision for people from Rockhampton to travel to Brisbane to attend a football game alongside 30,000 people, from all around the country, and then travel home?
I don’t accept that the health advice says that it makes sense to hold a football game with visitors from all around the country while coronavirus continues to spread.
Then again this just seems to be another double standard from a government desperate to win an election more than fight a virus or keep people in a job.