Compassion for stranded Queenslanders

11 Nov 2021

Image of cars queuing at border checkpoint


Transcript: AMA Queensland President, Professor Chris Perry, ABC Brisbane, Drive with Steve Austin, Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Subject: Queenslanders stranded in border zone

STEVE AUSTIN:   The Australian Medical Association Queensland is calling on the State Government to go one step further. Dr Chris Perry is the President of the Medical Association in Queensland. Dr Chris Perry, what do you want the State Government to allow? You want them to go one step further? What is it?

CHRIS PERRY:   We’d like to see people who are stuck in cars, who have ran out of money, who are being supported by people in northern New South Wales and church money, we'd like to be able to see them to come across the border with the lorries, be checked out that they are indeed Queenslanders and are double vaccinated and see if they can get in home.

A whole lot of things have changed since July. We're a much more vaccinated state than New South Wales or Victoria were when COVID took off. The problem the Queensland Government’s got is that it’s a big state and people who are infected could want to travel by car up to Cairns. We've got to be able to work out how we let them in, maybe stay in southeast Queensland a bit. I think there’d be people who'd be welcoming some of these people to stay in their granny flats or somewhere in their house -

STEVE AUSTIN:    [interrupts] People may not remember but in the 1974 flood, when people lost everything, other Southeast Queensland residents opened up their homes to these homeless people. So there's a rich tradition of caring for other people when it comes to homes here in Queensland.

CHRIS PERRY:     Yeah, I think that could be organised, especially when the churches are involved, and St Vincent De Paul and Salvation Army. I think we should look after these people. It's said to be 4,000. I think Steve you probably know these figures more than I do.

STEVE AUSTIN:     The last figure I got from the Queensland Police was 4,189. Now I hope it's gone down since then. The fact that we've had people who've committed no offence, done nothing wrong, but are locked out of their own home and state since July, they’ve been living in their cars and showgrounds and in tents and caravans - I'm stunned that only part of the job was done. But anyhow, my apologies, I interrupted you. So why is it important for the AMA, to allow people into Queensland via road as well?

CHRIS PERRY:     Well, just some people who are close to the border, it's going to be very difficult for those – especially with no money - to be able to go to a place where they can hop on a plane. You’re not going to fly from the Gold Coast to Brisbane. So there should be some way that they can come in, maybe go straight to their house, a tank full of petrol, they go straight home and home quarantine and get a PCR test or two over that first week. They are double vaccinated and we need to show some compassion and look after these people.

STEVE AUSTIN:     So home quarantine is a legitimate quarantine method? You know, it's effective as that health containment system as far as the AMA is concerned?

CHRIS PERRY:     Well, it seems to be pretty effective. In Victoria and New South Wales, we think it'll work. It's worked well in Queensland when the COVID cluster occurred in inner-western Brisbane –

STEVE AUSTIN:     [interrupts] Indooroopilly, of course, that's right, they made everyone stay home for two weeks, didn't they, and it worked quite well.

CHRIS PERRY:     Well, Jeannette Young put out the figures and it said on two separate days Queensland Police checked on 2,501 one day and 2,600 households the next day. And, on the first day, all but two households were complete. And on the second day, all but three households were complete. And it's one of the reasons why Queensland’s done so well. People try to do what they're asked.

STEVE AUSTIN:     My guest is Dr Chris Perry, President of the Australian Medical Association in Queensland. What are the mental health impacts on those people who have homes here in Queensland, but they're locked out of their own home, rental accommodation, or lost jobs or, as you've heard with a bit of audio there, have gone into debt just to meet the financial needs.

CHRIS PERRY:     Well, obviously, quite serious. We've got to take it into perspective and we’ve got to try and look after people. It’s what we do. We are very vaccinated. It would be good to see these things happen. It would be good to get people home. It's been too long. Things have changed since July. We should be able to work out how we can do that safely. And do it by road. Of those 4,000 people, I don't know how many of those are close to an airport that will fly to Brisbane or fly from Brisbane up to Cairns, they might have to come by air.

But people who are in southeast Queensland, if it's just a short hop over the border with a tank full of petrol, they should be able to go home and home quarantine. We should start it now. We should be able to clear this backlog.

STEVE AUSTIN:     I know that doctors don't like to give advice to patients without actually seeing them face to face, but many people, some 4,000-odd, who are still trapped and waiting on the other side of the border and will not be able to get into at least, you know, December, they can't drive in until the 17th of December. Do you have any advice for them?

CHRIS PERRY:     I can’t give any facile advice. I just wish we could just fix up this problem. We mean well, we'd like to get people across the border. It's obviously not good for their mental health. It's not good for the kids sleeping rough in cars, sleeping in tents. It's much better to get them home. They're paying rent, or they've lost their possessions elsewhere in Queensland. They really do need a helping hand, and I think Queenslanders will do that.

STEVE AUSTIN:      Dr Chris Perry, thanks for your time. Dr Chris Perry from the Australian Medical Association of Queensland.


Published: 11 Nov 2021