Few people could know what it’s like to be bullied by the Prime Minister of Australia. But I imagine it’s like being unable to see your dad before he dies, or attend his funeral after his passing, only worse.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk must have imagined there would hardly be a dry eye in the place when she told Parliament she had been bullied and intimidated by the Prime Minister.
“This intimidation, and this bullying is the worst I’ve ever seen in my lifetime,” the Premier complained on Thursday.
The Prime Minister had apparently suggested it would be a good idea for a young woman who had travelled to Queensland to see her ailing dad – only for him to die in the meantime – to be allowed out of quarantine for a couple of hours to attend his funeral.
The Premier advised the PM that, as the elected leader of her state, she was able to do some things like making abortion easier but unable to do other things like let a woman farewell her father.
“(The PM) contacted me this morning … and I made it very clear to the fact that it was not my decision,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“(I made it clear) that I would pass his comments on to the chief health officer, and it is her decision to make.”
The Chief Health Officer, though, had been so busy allowing footballers and celebrities into the State that she had let Sarah Caisip’s request to see her dad languish in an inbox for 20 days – during which time he had died.
All that was left was for Sarah to attend the funeral.
“I said to the Prime Minister, I would refer it to the chief health officer and I did that,’ Ms Palaszczuk said. “It’s her decision… you’ve got to take the clinical advice here.”
And the answer was a clinical “no”.
No, the Government did not apologise for bureaucratic bungling that caused Sarah to miss seeing her dad before he died.
No, the Government did not care that there was zero chance Sarah – being from Canberra where there have been no Covid-19 cases for two months – represented a health risk.
No, the Government would not allow Sarah to attend her dad’s funeral.
Chief Health Officer Janette Young did, however, make an allowance. The non-elected, unrepresentative bureaucrat said Sarah would be permitted to farewell her dad in the morgue. Alone. Wearing PPE gear.
Advice doesn’t get much more “clinical” than that.
It was enough to make one insist on gender quotas in order to get even more women into positions of power so as to spread this kinder, gentler, more empathetic style of leadership.
“We’re dealing with a health pandemic,” the Premier said matter-of-factly.
Actually, the Premier was dealing with Sarah. Or rather, insisting someone else (the Chief Health Officer) deal with her.
Premier Palaszczuk became enraged when the Queensland Opposition drew attention to Sarah’s plight in parliament.
“It is absolutely not acceptable for the leader of the Opposition to do what she is doing today: a coordinated campaign with the prime minister’s office is disgusting and it is demeaning,” she complained.
“Disgusting and demeaning” in the way a woman being prevented from seeing her dying dad is disgusting and demeaning. Only worse, evidently.
She complained that the Opposition was seeking to “use this personal tragedy” – by which the meant Sarah Caisip’s inability to attend a funeral due to the government’s overly stringent border controls in place between now and the upcoming election – for political purposes.
So Palaszczuk created a personal tragedy for political purposes and now accuses anyone who dares to point it out of using a personal tragedy for political purposes.
It is the kind of logic that imagines the Premier is the real victim, rather than Sarah Caisip.
With tears in her eyes and her voice cracking, Ms Palaszczuk said on Friday: “I’m human just like everyone else. These issues hurt me deeply”
Unlike everyone else, she is also the Premier. The Premier who imagines a contrary view from the PM is “bullying”; the Premier who imagines she can hide behind bureaucrats; the Premier who imagines another family’s tragedy is really all about her.
One suspects these issues will hurt the Premier even more deeply on Saturday, October 31.
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