Moment Premier’s cold, black heart was exposed

The Palaszczuk Government's obsession with COVID-19 statistics and politicising the pandemic has exposed a black heart - and dangerous myopia.

The Premier can show all the emotion she likes for the cameras now, but on the day she refused to let a young woman leave quarantine to attend her father's funeral she appeared as cold as ice.


While she eventually agreed to let Sarah Caisip have a private viewing of her late father after Thursday's funeral - which Ms Caisip unsurprisingly described as a "really strange" experience - Ms Palaszczuk was more concerned with the numbers and telling Prime Minister Scott Morrison where to shove his well-meaning attempts to intervene in the name of compassion.


Sarah Caisip on her way to view her father’s body after his funeral at Mt Gravatt Cemetery. Picture: Annette Dew
Sarah Caisip on her way to view her father’s body after his funeral at Mt Gravatt Cemetery. Picture: Annette Dew


That morning she tweeted to her 145,000 followers on Twitter that there were zero new confirmed cases. Whoopee!

Ms Palaszczuk again went over the numbers - of total cases, recovered cases, and of deaths, which remained unchanged at six.

On Friday, she was at it again, advising of two new cases, taking the active total to 28.

I get that we need to know the state of play, but fixating on numbers ignores important issues associated with this awful virus.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with NRL legend Johnathan Thurston and boxer Jeff Horn in May 2019. Picture: Adam Head
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with NRL legend Johnathan Thurston and boxer Jeff Horn in May 2019. Picture: Adam Head


With some efficacy, the government has used numbers to justify border closures at the expense of economic recovery, and quarantine people without compassion ... unless they're famous, footballers, or connected to the Premier's other favourite sport, boxing.

It has drummed up more media opportunities than Pauline Hanson could dream of, all the while peddling this "we're all in this together" tripe and shamefully politicising a pandemic that has created more mental health problems than physical ones.

One set of numbers the Government isn't talking about now is the escalation in suicide and self-harm linked to COVID-19 stresses.

In recent weeks I've reported on several confirmed or apparent suicides, and they're the ones I know about.


A paramedic mate tells me he's responded to more suicides these past six months than at any time in his 25-year career, while a GP says she's seen "a ridiculously high" increase in patients self-harming in a "desperate cry for help".

This week's YouGov survey shows one-quarter of Queenslanders have reported losing a family member to suicide, the highest rate in the country.

This all fits with predictions from suicide prevention groups that the number of people killing themselves will soar by up to 50 percent because of COVID-19, with the greatest spike in younger Australians.

Young people are at increased risk of suicide and self-harm under COVID-19.
Young people are at increased risk of suicide and self-harm under COVID-19.

As if the numbers weren't bad enough before the pandemic.

Last year, a report by the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University put the annual number of suicides in Queensland at 804.

For every one of those deaths, a potential 135 people were affected, including family members, friends, first responders and colleagues.

I can't begin to imagine the ongoing cost to individuals impacted emotionally and physically, or to the economy in demands on the public health system for counselling and related illness, lost productivity due to grief, and so on.

The report says while "suicidal behaviour is a complex problem" it is shaped by a person's environment.

In analysing the Queensland Suicide Register, it found 44 per cent of people who suicided were having separation and relationship difficulties, 27 per cent were unemployed, and 12.5 per cent were facing unemployment.

Half were known to have one or more mental health conditions, with depression the most common, followed by anxiety and substance use disorders.

Of the 40 per cent with untreated mental health conditions, half had unknown conditions.

This last statistic speaks to the shock of loved ones left behind who are riddled with guilt and keep asking, "what did I miss?".

As grieving relatives and friends have told me recently, they wished they probed deeper to uncover any troubles but at the time they didn't see any reason to.

What these numbers show, very clearly, is that Queensland has a bigger problem with suicide than it has with coronavirus.

And when you consider the triggers for suicide - isolation, separation, joblessness, depression, anxiety - it doesn't take a genius to realise how much more potent they are in 2020, and will be going forward.

Queenslanders need a well-articulated plan for economic recovery - now, not after the October 31 election - and a sensible, equitable approach to social distancing and public safety risk.

Belligerence over borders should be countered with intelligence, hard lines on quarantine with compassion.

When the world's health experts keep telling us we need to learn to live with coronavirus, our leaders should be helping us do just that, and do it well, instead of putting politics before people.



What Kate Jones did for Queensland politics. Real passion. Pity to see her go.

Another own goal for the hapless Greens with claims of dodgy raffles and misuse of JobKeeper. And they could hold the balance of power if Labor stays in?

Singer Lily Allen marrying actor David Harbour in a Vegas chapel, in a Dior dress, and having a fast food 'reception'.


That the Chinese social media platform TikTok is "unable" to remove a graphic suicide video potentially seen by millions of kids.

Queensland's outdated stance on shield laws so journalists can protect our sources without facing jail or fines.

The Government stripping the Queensland Productivity Commission of its independence by bringing it into the Treasury Department. Transparency?








Originally published as Moment Premier's cold, black heart was exposed