The hosts of the Today Show broke down on live TV this morning after they found out Karl Stefanovic’s schoolmate was unable to visit his mother before she died due to Queensland’s border restrictions.
At the start of the interview with Anthony McCormick, Karl checked in with his friend and his mum.
“I went to school with Anthony in Saint Augustine’s in Cairns. How are you? How is your mum doing?” he said.
“G’day Karl, G’day Karl. She passed away last night. So that was …,” Mr McCormick replied.
Allison Langdon cried at the news, wiping away her tears with a tissue, while Karl looked devastated and slumped over his desk.
After making a mad dash from his home in Canada to be with his mum in her final moments, Mr McCormick was held up while waiting for an exemption request from Queensland Health.
He spent thousands of dollars in airfares to make the trip to see his Brisbane-based mother dying of cancer, but she passed away while he was stuck in mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.
“She was diagnosed three weeks ago when she fell ill. By the time they figured out the prognosis, I was scrambling to get on board [a flight],” he told Karl and Allison.
“I could sit here and bash the system all day long. NSW Health were amazing. They had proactively called me before I even got on my flight, had the exemption plan all laid out and while I was on the flight they actually executed it.
“Queensland Health on the other hand were silent. It wasn’t until I landed and I had to start chasing them up and had to get things moving, I didn’t receive a single phone call from Queensland Health, yet NSW were constantly on the phone to me, calling the hotel room.”
He emphasised that the point he was trying to make was around the states’ differing regulations.
“It was supposed to be a compassionate policy. I think these policies are very confusing about what compassion means,” he said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has defended the state’s exemption process and said his exemption request was still with New South Wales Health.
“Our hearts go out to him, to lose someone so close, it’s just awful,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“We all lose relatives. It’s not nice.”
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young said Mr McCormick had only arrived in Australia on Tuesday.
“He only arrived in Sydney on the 6th of July, and we’ve been working with the New South Wales authorities to look at what could be done to assist him,” Dr Young said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has since said his government is trying to work with the states and territories to streamline the process when dealing with compassionate cases.
“We’ll be supportive of all of the states and territories, but ultimately, as I see this, these are people’s lives and these are the critical moments in their lives,” he told the Today show.
“This is a very important part of how we provide exemptions for incoming travel to Australia, or outgoing travel at the international border level, but between the states I’d encourage and support the same compassionate approach.”
Image: Channel 9
This article originally appeared on Over60.