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19 July, 2021

There is a need for clarity on COVID exemption

The Chief Health Officer should provide clarity to Queenslanders around the criteria she applies when deciding who should and should not be granted hotel quarantine exemptions, Katter’s Australian Party Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto has said.


Mr Dametto has today written to CHO Dr Jeanette Young, who will later this year become the Queensland Governor, seeking transparency around her hotel quarantine exemption decisions.

He has also appealed for a review of the exemption application made at the weekend by fully-vaccinated Melbourne nurse Maddie Newton, who wants to travel to Townsville following the death of her father in a tragic car accident last Friday.

So far, Ms Newton been denied an exemption and has been instructed to enter two-weeks’ hotel quarantine on arrival into the state. 

Mr Dametto said while he understood the need for the strict enforcement of hotel quarantine, there was widespread anger and confusion across Queensland around perceived double standards associated with exemptions.

He said Queensland, and Australia, needed a clear and compassionate framework in place to deal with such situations.

In his letter to Dr Young, Mr Dametto said the entire community would benefit from a more open decision-making process. 

“I am prompted to contact you on this issue due to the unfolding, and very difficult, situation associated with young Melbourne-based nurse Maddie Newton who has applied for an exemption to return to Townsville from locked-down Victoria following the death of her father in a tragic car crash at the weekend,” he wrote.

“I understand Ms Newton is a fully-vaccinated nurse who, so far, has been denied an exemption and has been instructed she must enter two-weeks’ hotel quarantine on arrival into Queensland.

“For obvious reasons, this scenario would not by suitable for Ms Newton and her family.

“Queenslanders are upset because it seems that if you’re a football or movie star, or somebody otherwise considered important, you can qualify for a hotel quarantine exemption while members of the general public often can not.   

“This may be an incorrect perception, and if it is not the case then publishing the exemption criteria will go a long way to ending such misconceptions.

“In this spirit of transparency, I write to you today to seek some clarity on what criteria is applied when making decisions around this issue.

“I believe having this information in the public domain would provide much-needed certainty to Queenslanders, as well as prospective visitors to our state, who are continuing to grapple with the difficult effects of the pandemic and the government restrictions associated with managing it.

“Further, I respectfully request that Ms Newton’s exemption application be reviewed and all options available to mitigate the risk of her spreading COVID-19 in Queensland be considered such as home quarantine and regular testing.”


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