THERE are people around Australia – I have been trying to help one woman here in the electorate of Murray Plains – desperate to get into other states to farewell loved ones before it is too late.
For too many of them, that deadline has passed.
Parents, even worse, children, dying in hospitals in other states and those nearest and dearest to them are being denied the chance to share those last few words, that last hug, one last kiss – the last touch of farewell.
Moments that cannot be recaptured; a sense of loss – and deep pain – that will haunt many of them the rest of their lives.
Bringing a pandemic under control is vital; we have all been in that fight from day one.
But if you had the power to admit a person to go from a border post straight to a hospital bed and then back, seeing no-one else, touching no-one else, not even breathing on anyone else because they will have a mask, what would you do?
Our COVID-19 numbers in Victoria are way down, in other states they have been nowhere near what they have here.
But not even appeals to Premiers from the Prime Minister have had any effect.
Queensland not only denied admission to one Canberra woman who had been trying for three weeks to reach her dying father; Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the country it wasn’t her call.
Instead, she abrogated her responsibility to her chief health officer Jeannette Young, saying it was her decision.
The person elected to lead her state deferred to a bureaucrat.
The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, could not move Ms Palaszczuk despite some of the most eloquent words of his career.
Words offered last week to at least get her to her father’s funeral: “It’s not about borders. It’s not about politicians. It’s not about elections. The only thing that matters today is that Sarah can be with her 11-year-old sister Isobel and her mother while they mourn the passing of their father and husband Bernard at Mount Gravatt”.
Words not answered by the Premier but again by the bureaucrat: “The last thing I would want to happen is to have an outbreak at a funeral”.
“I do not want to see in Queensland any risks, people attending funerals, catching COVID-19 and then going back to vulnerable places like aged care homes,” Ms Young said.
Canberra has not had any active cases of coronavirus for two months.
How history judge’s Australia’s – and the world’s – response to COVID-19 is somewhere down the track.
But it took me the better part of three weeks just to help an 83-year-old widow, who had bought a property in a South Australian retirement village (to be near family) after selling her Echuca home of 12 years, to get across the border. I was prepared to drive her there myself so the SA government knew I would come straight home.
That she was having ongoing treatment for cancer might have been, in the end, the only thing that kept her from technically being homeless.
Yet celebrities, footballers, rugby players and hundreds of their hangers-on are able to jet into Queensland – and other states – with impunity.
In Queensland this too, apparently, was the decision of the same bureaucrat and she made it plain the magic word was not ‘please’ – instead it was ‘money’.
The senior health officer of Queensland was now apparently making economic decisions instead of the Premier and the elected Parliament.
At least in Victoria Daniel Andrews made no bones about wanting that kind of power – he contrived to be granted dictatorial powers not considered by any other state.
Then with absolute power in his hands, and his alone, kept looking for other people to blame for anything and everything that has gone wrong – and plenty has.
Australia is traditionally all about the fair go.
Certainly regional and country Australia clings to that basic tenet of our way of life.
So why are we deliberately allowing our alleged leaders to inflict so much suffering on the little people, the people who most needed their support?