‘Unbecoming even of her’: Miles’ stinging attack
Health Minister Steven Miles has insisted Queensland's border restrictions are clear following criticism from both the State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington after the tragic death of an unborn baby.
Mr Miles said he would write to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard this weekend to clarify Queensland's border arrangements, after the Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones said Queensland's border restrictions had factored into the decision to send a Ballina woman pregnant with twins to Sydney.
Doctors wanted to send Kimberley Brown - who required surgery due to a rare pregnancy condition called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome - to Brisbane on August 13 but believed she would need to undergo 14 days in hotel quarantine before the urgent procedure.
Instead, she and husband Scott Brown were forced to wait 16 hours for a care flight to Royal Prince Alfred in Sydney before the procedure was performed several hours after arrival.
One of the babies died in utero on Thursday and now the couple are in a desperate fight to ensure the little girl's twin sister survives.
Ms Frecklington on Friday said the Premier needed to be more "compassionate" and said medical emergencies should be automatically exempt.
"This is absolutely tragic," Ms Frecklington said.
"My heart bleeds for the family and everything they have been put through.
"When it comes to medical emergencies and border exemptions, the Premier needs to be more compassionate and consistent - not have one rule for the rich and another rule for everyday Australians."
"At the end of the day we are all Australians and medical emergencies should be automatically exempt."
But Mr Miles on Saturday slammed Ms Frecklington's comments, calling them "disgusting".
"This past 24 hours watching politicians use this tragic event to further their political arguments has left me feeling sick," Mr Miles said.
"What Deb Frecklington said yesterday was disgusting.
"It's unbecoming even of her."
Mr Miles said the border direction was very clear: "It does not apply to people seeking emergency health care or those accompanying people needing emergency health care."
"I will write today to the NSW Health Minister and I will ask him to notify all of the hospitals in NSW to ensure that they are aware of these arrangements.
"Our hospitals and our aeromedical evacuation services save lives every single day and there are no borders that restrict them saving those lives and they will continue to do so."
Asked whether he conceded there was confusion with the border, given he was now having to write to NSW, Mr Miles said Queensland's hospitals, clinicians and evacuation services know the restrictions do not apply.
" ... and so if there is a communication problem south of the border I want to fix it and I will do that but writing to the New South Wales minister and asking him to convey that to those hospitals," he said.
"At no time have we attempted to apply the border restrictions on people requiring emergency care."
LNP shadow health spokeswoman Ros Bates said Mr Miles writing to NSW was a "clear admission of failure."
"The fact New South Wales health authorities were unsure about emergency transfers highlights the ongoing uncertainty around border exemptions," she said.
Mr Miles said a national COVID hotspot declarations would not be useful, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted he would push for them.
"States are managing the health response here and states need to continue to be able to manage the health response based on what's going on in their particular states," he said.
"Frankly Scott Morrison should spend a bit more time on the things he's responsible for like international borders, like aged care, like supporting the Victorian Government in their response."