Politics

People Are Sending Death Threats To Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Over Border Closures

"It has taken an enormous toll on me, but then this has taken an enormous toll on nearly every single person in our community."

dr jeanette young

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer is now under police protection after receiving death threats from people angry over the state’s strict border closures.

Dr Jeanette Young has been repeatedly targeted for advising the government to keep the borders closed to travellers from Victoria, NSW and the ACT. Despite her tactics doing a tremendous job of limiting the spread of COVID-19 from the southern states — where community transmission is still a big problem — she’s been copping a lot of heat from outsiders who aren’t happy about the restrictions.

This morning Dr Chris Perry — the president of Queensland’s chapter of the Australian Medical Association — told The Today Show the criticism and personal attacks have been toxic.

“Jeannette now has a couple of police outside of her house, who go with her everywhere,” he said.

“She has had to have extra help with sorting through the applications for quarantine exemptions; she was getting over 100 per day which she was trying to deal with herself, so working through five in the morning to nine at night was quite hard work.

“It’s been quite stressful and it hasn’t been helped by cowardly people who are threatening to take the life of a woman.”

While the decision to close Queensland’s borders has proved largely popular within the state, it’s been slammed by the NSW and federal governments. Last week the border issue became a battleground, after a heartbreaking case where a woman was banned from attending her father’s funeral. Since then a number of equally tough cases have emerged, which has lead to to criticism from the likes of Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton.

The fact that Hollywood star Tom Hanks and 11 others were given permission to enter the state to recommence filming for the Elvis biopic was also controversial — however, it’s since emerged that Peter Dutton’s department actually provided federal approvals for that to happen.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk defended the border closures by saying she was simply following health advice, and this morning Dr Perry also said the restrictions were justified.

“We don’t want to be in the same position as Victoria,” he said.

“You have got to make a choice. Do we have more people at funerals, or more COVID funerals?

“I spent a week ago talking to a friend of mine in intensive care in Melbourne. He could barely get two words out in a breath. It is heartbreaking.”

Dr Young was asked about the need for police protection today, but seemed quite unbothered by that aspect.

“Well, actually, that helps me,” she said.

“That our government here in Queensland is prepared to support me to that extent is, I think, the support that they have shown to me and has made me feel much, much safer doing what I need to do and knowing that I’m supported in doing it.”

She did however admit the criticism had taken an “enormous toll” on her, but dodged any self-pity by acknowledging that people across the state were also feeling a toll.

Today Palaszczuk said they would be beefing up their exemptions unit so they’re better able to assess individual cases, but said she wouldn’t back down over border controls.

“In Queensland, people going about their normal jobs, as if almost life was back to normal. I’m not going to risk all of that. Why would anyone risk that?”