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Gold Coast man charged over death threats to Young and Palaszczuk

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Queensland police have charged a Gold Coast man with threatening to kill the state’s Premier and Chief Health Officer.

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Detectives searched a Gold Coast property last night as a result of investigations into alleged threats made against Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the state’s top health adviser, Dr Jeannette Young.

A 43-year-old Nerang man will appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on October 7 charged with one count of Using a Carriage Service to Make a Threat to Kill.

Police have released no further detail however the arrest comes after Young said she felt the pressure of her job and expressed gratitude for being given a security detail when in public. Neither Young nor Palaszczuk have spoken publicly today.

Following reports that Young was open to reducing the 28-day period for an area to be free of COVID-19 to no longer be declared a hotspot, it emerged her peers on the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee wanted the 28 days to remain.

That gave a powerful endorsement of Queensland’s current policy, amid a vexed political debate over definitions and timeframes, but the Morrison Government will not take the issue to national Cabinet tomorrow. It remains to be seen whether the Morrison Government has another proposal in mind but Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has argued for the state to be able to set its own policies.

Morrison today said Australia should be aiming to “get these borders down eventually” although he conceded it was too soon to do so.

“We have got to have sensible and fair exemption systems, and not have double standards, and explain that we are doing,” Morrison said, repeating his long-running criticisms of Queensland’s quarantine exemption process.

“Every state has a different situation and I respect that, but at the same time, we have got to get to a situation where having these things doesn’t mean we are winning as a country when we deal with the virus. We have to live with the virus, not let the virus destroy the way we live.”

But Queensland’s Deputy Premier, Health Minister Steven Miles, said Morrison and federal Health Minister Greg Hunt had put politics before health in rejecting the advice of the AHPPC. He said the federal Coalition would not want to be seen to support Queensland Labor.

“You can’t reject their advice before it even gets to national cabinet,” Miles said.

The debate came as Australia’s worst-hit state, Victoria, recorded its lowest increase in coronavirus cases in about three months. There were 28 new infections overnight, and a further eight deaths, however a lockdown and other restrictions appear to be working to slow and contain the outbreaks.

Queensland recorded one new case, in an Ipswich Hospital worker aged in his 60s, as the testing rate surged again. His results came back positive on the 10th day of his 14-day quarantine, keeping the recent south-east Queensland clusters alive.

“If we manage to only have cases from these clusters in quarantine then we will ultimately end these clusters,” Miles said, noting Queensland had 27 active cases.

NSW reported five new cases, including two returned travellers in hotel quarantine and two linked to known cases or clusters.

Queensland will review its border policies at the end of September, and the Government is already examining the restrictions on the ACT, after South Australia agreed to reopen travel with the territory. NSW also relaxed its border rules overnight, allowing Victorian travel with a permit.

Morrison suggested some states had more “extreme” rules.

“It may be we will have a border down between NSW and Victoria and South Australia before we have one down between NSW and Queensland, where the case numbers are radically different,” Morrison said.

Miles reiterated the Palaszczuk Government was acting on Young’s advice. She has been backed by several powerful lobby groups, including the Australian Medical Association and the Local Government Association of Queensland.

With the state election on October 31, Miles claimed there was a “deliberate strategy concocted in the Prime Minister’s office” to bring down Queensland’s Labor Government.

He questioned why Queensland could invest heavily in its health response, but the Federal Government could not do more to organise, and pay for, the return of thousands of Australians stranded overseas.

Morrison was asked about the prospect of having to pay for his own 14-day quarantine in Queensland if he wanted to help the Liberal National Party in the state election campaign, or attend the AFL Grand Final in Brisbane. He suggested he was too busy to travel to Queensland anyway.

“I’m not asking for special rules to apply to me and I don’t think special rules should apply,” Morrison said.

“It’s not my decision as to how they run the borders, but if there are those rules, then I’ll comply with them the same as anyone else. But I do know that there should be exemptions for hardship cases.”

Palaszczuk has not conducted any media events today. She is understood to have the common cold, appearing to struggle in a press conference yesterday. A spokesman for the Premier said she tested negative for COVID-19 overnight and was working from home.

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