Heartbreaking way daughter said goodbye to father
A grieving daughter stood alone, clad in extensive PPE, and without her loved ones at a private viewing of her father's body.
That was the only way Sarah Caisip, 26, of Canberra, was permitted to farewell her father in person after she found herself at the centre of a standoff over Queensland's strict border rules.
She was granted a last chance to farewell her father following an emotional plea from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Ms Caisip was escorted by police alone to the Mount Gravatt Cemetery and Crematorium after her father's official funeral service had finished.
Wearing a fabric mask and a clear full-face covering, she attended a brief private viewing of her father's body and was immediately escorted back to her isolated hotel quarantine.
She was not allowed to hug or even see her grief-stricken mother and 11-year-old sister.
Ms Caisip had been blocked by the Palaszczuk government from attending her father's funeral, as tensions between Mr Morrison and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk exploded with Mr Morrison pleading with the Premier to allow the young woman to attend her father's funeral.
But an unwavering Premier shot back that it was the Chief Health Officer's decision and she would "not be bullied".
On the verge of breaking down in tears, remembering his own father who died in January this year, Mr Morrison urged the Premier to relent and allow Sarah to leave her hotel quarantine to attend the funeral.
"It's not about borders. It's not about Federation, it's not about politicians and it's not about elections," Mr Morrison told Ray Hadley on 4BC today.
"The only thing that matters today is that Sarah can be with her 11-year-old sister Isabel, and her mother Myrna while they mourn the passing of their father and husband Bernard at Mount Gravatt today.
"That's the only thing that matters today."
Upon hearing the story, Mr Morrison called Ms Palaszczuk.
In response, Ms Palaszczuk said she "will not be bullied nor will she be intimidated by the Prime Minister of this country".
"(He) contacted me this morning … and I made it very clear to the fact that it was not my decision.
"(I made it clear) that I would pass his comments on to the Chief Health Officer, and it is her decision to make."
The Prime Minister's office has rejected claims that he told the Premier during their phone call that "you will do this".
It is understood he said "you're the Premier, you have the power to make this happen".
According to the Queensland Government website, COVID-19 hot spots, which includes the ACT, are "places in Australian where health officials have found a lot of people with COVID-19".
Canberra last recorded a COVID-19 case 62 days ago on July 10, while it's last case of local transmission was 145 days ago on April 18.
At noon, the Health Minister's office confirmed that the woman would be allowed to have a private viewing at the funeral home after the service, but she will not be allowed to attend the service itself.
Prior to the update, Mr Morrison said the 26-year-old woman had applied for an exemption to travel to Queensland from Canberra, where there have been no COVID-19 cases in more than 60 days, to see him before he died of terminal cancer.
He died before she could arrive, after waiting more than 20 days to hear back about an exemption.
Mr Morrison said he had called Ms Palaszczuk this morning to make the case for the young woman, after hearing her story on Ray Hadley's 4BC radio show, but went public after the conversation did not end well.
"She missed that opportunity (to see him before he died) and this is her last opportunity to say farewell to a dad now," he said.
"All of us have been through that process know how important a day like today is. It's still fresh in my mind."
Mr Morrison became emotional as he spoke.
"It was Father's Day on the weekend, and I'm just thinking of Sarah had to go through that day in a hotel in isolation and there she is today," he said.
Mr Morrison said he hoped she would reconsider before the funeral at 2pm today.
"I just think that can say to everybody in the midst of what is an awful year that we can provide at least on one occasion, hope to a family who just desperately needs the whole country to put their arms around them today," he said.
"Their family is like so many others who've gone through the same heartache.
"There will be people listening to this call today, who have already had to go through this year.
"Just today please, that's my plea."
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington asked the Premier in parliament today if she would show "some compassion" and let the woman leave quarantine to farewell her father.
Ms Palaszczuk responded by saying she did not make individual decisions and insisted they were made by the Chief Health Officer.
"We are in extraordinary times at the moment and no one likes the fact that we're in a global pandemic and no one likes to hear these tragic personal stories," she said.
"And tragically, families have been prevented from going and seeing their loved ones right across the country. This is not unique to Queensland.
"I am very disappointed that the Leader of the Opposition would come in here and ask a very personal and sensitive issue when … the Leader of the Opposition knows that it is not my decision."
Ms Frecklington followed up with another question asking if Sarah's case would be urgently investigated, but Ms Palaszczuk said it was a matter for the Chief Health Officer.
"I made it very clear … these are awful times that everyone has to go through - every single person," the Premier said.
Ms Palaszczuk said during the pandemic there had been over 700 deaths in Victoria and that she was quite sure somewhere along the line there would have been people unable to attend those funerals.
"This is a world pandemic. This is not the time to carry on like this," she said.
The Premier said never in her lifetime she thought she would have to deal with a pandemic.
"Every single day is tough," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"Every single day, everyone on my side of this House is fighting to keep people alive."
Originally published as Heartbreaking way daughter said goodbye to father