A dad-of-four dying in a hospital bed will only be allowed to see one of his kids a final time due to strict coronavirus border rules.
Doctors have told Mark Keans he is unlikely to live past Christmas as the 39-year-old truck driver loses his battle with stage 4 terminal brain and lung cancer, having been diagnosed a month ago.
But officials in Queensland have told the family only one of his children can pass the border between New South Wales and Queensland in east Australia, to avoid posing a risk to other cancer patients, 9News reports.
Mark’s family are outraged – and others question why there are state border restrictions in place at all.
Mr Kean’s father, Bruce Langborne, told 9News: “Just let us see our son, that’s all we ask. We just want to see him.
“I’ve got no idea how we can work out to pick one (child).”
Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s administration has ruled that only one of Mark’s children will be allowed to cross into Brisbane in Queensland from New South Wales to see him, despite pleas for an exemption from the family.
The child will be allowed to see their dad in a supervised one hour visit before having to return across the border. All of his children are under the age of 13
Mark’s sister Tam Langborne told Daily Mail Australia that the family were struggling with the decision of which child should be chosen to see their dad in his last moments.
She said: “The youngest of the children is only seven years old. I think sending him by himself to see his Dad for an hour would do a lot more damage than good.”
“I understand the reasons behind the border closure but what hurts the most is actors and sporting teams get a free ride to go into Queensland because they have a name.
“All we want to do is sit with our brother and say thanks for a good life and for the kids to see him for the last time.”
She added: “The youngest of the children is only seven years old. I think sending him by himself to see his Dad for an hour would do a lot more damage than good.”
The family were presented with the option of quarantining in Queensland for two weeks, but could not afford to pay for a hotel for 11 people for a fortnight.
To pay for quarantine in Queensland costs $2,800 for one adult, $3,710 for two adults, and $4,620 for two adults and two children.
However, Ms Palaszczuk has allowed 400 Australian Football League officials to enter her state for the Grand Final, while Hollywood star Tom Hanks is not being forced to enter hotel quarantine after flying in from America, as the Premiere claims the movie industry’s Covid-safe plan makes him exempt.
In Queensland Parliament today, Ms Palaszczuk seemed to dismiss the family’s case and highlighted how she was unable to visit a sick relative due to the closed border.
She said: “My uncle was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and I couldn’t go and visit him in the hospital.”
But New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard expressed outrage at her comments.
The Queensland and New South Wales governments are said to be embroiled in an ongoing tense row over the closed border.
Mr Hazzard said: “I can only express my anger, my supreme anger, at the Queensland Premier’s decision, which in my view is nothing more base loopy politics. I’m appalled.”
Ms Palaszczuk’s opposition has urged her to “show compassion”.
The state’s strict border restrictions are said to be having a negative impact on New South Wales communities, which borders Queensland to the north.
Several similar accounts to that of Mr Keans have been documented in the Australian press.
Premier of News South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian said: “I urge the Queensland Premier to consider carefully the impact border closures are having on our communities, on our citizens on either side of the border.
“You have to look at this issue from a compassionate perspective, a human perspective and appreciate that people with medical challenges, with compassionate reasons, or just to get to work, need to be considered.”
Ms Berejiklian does not see why the border restrictions should still be in place by Christmas, as New South Wales recorded just nine new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.
Five of these are linked to a hospital and two are people who work in healthcare.