“Yesterday afternoon a document was circulated to a number of parties and media outlets purporting to be an official exemption from the Queensland Chief Health Officer which grants interstate boarding school students from NSW and the ACT approval to return home and back to school again unimpeded these holidays,” Minister Gee said.
“Despite the fact that this document has been widely reported, there has been no public confirmation from the Queensland Government that an exemption has in fact been granted.
“This morning, I called on the Queensland Government to address this issue. My Office has also made contact with the Queensland Minister for Education’s Office and the Queensland Department of Education to request more information. Unfortunately, we are getting radio silence.
“The school holidays are fast approaching and boarding school students and their families are hurting. They deserve certainty.
“I urge the Queensland Government to publicly confirm whether this exemption has been granted, and to explain why there has been a delay in official advice.
“I simply do not understand why this is so difficult.
“The Queensland Government’s ongoing failure to publicly address these questions continues to place boarding school students and their families in limbo.
“They are pawns in the new political game of COVID-19, whereby political self-interest and parochialism overrides uniting families, giving them certainty and getting students home for the holidays.
“It seems that if you’re a footy executive, heaven and earth will be moved to get you a sun lounge and a cocktail by the pool, but if you’re a boarding school student trying to get home for the holidays, you get a wall of silence.
“States and territories have a responsibility to their interstate boarding school students. They need to step up and address these border restriction issues with compassionate and common-sense solutions.
“We need to provide all interstate boarding school students with certainty and a safe route home and back to school again these holidays.
“I’m hoping the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee can come up with a nationally consistent, caring and compassionate approach to recommend to the states and territories so that the turmoil over this issue doesn’t continue through to Christmas and the next holidays.”