PETA CREDLIN: Well, tonight, 26 year old Sarah Caisip is alone in a hotel quarantine room. Earlier today, as we've told you, she was allowed out of that hotel room to view the body of her dad, accompanied by police, lest she hug her mom or get close to her 11 year old sister. Now, despite appeals from people who heard about her plight today, right up to the top office in this country, Sarah was refused permission to attend the funeral today at 2 o'clock. The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who took up Sarah's case, joins me on the phone live now from Canberra. PM, it's a heartbreaking story. I know you personally called the Premier this morning, you appealed for some for some help to overturn this ban about the funeral, that was rejected as we know. But after your call to the Queensland Premier, she went into the parliament and accused you of trying to bully her. What's your response?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, look, Peta, I don't really care what they say about me. It's not about me. It's not about her. It was about Sarah. It was about Isobel. It was about Myrna. And and it was about Bernard. That's the only stuff that mattered today. It wasn't that borders. It wasn't about whether they should be up or down. It wasn't about, even about jobs today. And jobs are incredibly important, as you know. But this was just one day I had hoped that something different could be done. And I spoke to Sarah today and we chatted for a little while. She sent me a lovely message. But that just, I think just shows the generosity of her spirit on a, just what must have been the most horrible of days for her. I've seen the images of when she went to see her dad and there've been some shocking days during the course of this pandemic. And today was, today just hurt. And it wasn't. It's not just about Sarah's case as, because there are others. You've just been talking about one on your programme now. You know, we've got to find, if if these things have got to be up, if that's the view, they gotta find a better way. Those who have decided these measures are necessary, that they've got to find a better way to deal with with the heart here. I mean, I've dealt with many Premiers on many, many different issues all the time. I've dealt with the Queensland Premier on other issues. Sadly, today, I didn't have the influence that I would hope to have. But Sarah doesn't get today back.
CREDLIN: No, she doesn't.
PRIME MINISTER: She never gets it back. And that just fills my heart with sadness.
CREDLIN: PM, the Premier accused you when she went into the chamber. She said something along the lines of, you would make this private call between the two of you public anyway so she was going to get ahead of you. Now, I know that's not right. I know that you were determined that it was not to go anywhere near the media because you wanted to do the best and try and get an outcome by 2 o'clock. How is it that there's rules for footballers and for celebrities and Hollywood superstars, but ordinary people in all of this are being left behind?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think that's why people are so frustrated today when they see double standards. I mean, Queenslanders are fair minded people. I know that, I'm sure quite the vast majority of Queenslanders would support the borders being in place. That's why it's not about that. It's about, Queenslanders are very fair minded people too, they, and I think this is what would would offend them, the double standards that are there. But no, you're right. I look, I didn't want to see this become a public issue today. I mean, because largely for Sarah and Isobel and Myrna’s case, I mean, you know, they were trying to deal with the loss of their husband and their father today. And all of this was happening around that. And I'm sad that that has been the case. I mean, I've raised many cases with the Premier. I’ve probably raised more than 40 cases I think by correspondence I haven't made those a matter of the public record. I've raised other issues with other Premiers, and particularly with the New South Wales Health Minister, Brad Hazzard. There was a case that we worked together on last week. And I really thank Brad for the great work that he did on that. Neither he or I were rushing off to the cameras or anything. We just worked together to get it sorted. And and that's how it should work. And I think that's what people expect of us to do, to pick up the phone to each other in these cases and to raise these issues. And that's what I sought to do this morning. And at least I'm glad she got to say one last farewell to her father, Bernard. I'm pleased she was able to do that, but gee I wish she was able to give her mum and her sister a hug. And, you know, the other part was Peta, police officers we ask to do some hard things. Could you imagine being one of those police officers today with her, with Sarah? Honestly.
CREDLIN: Yeah I think of them today, too. I mean, that's the last thing that they would want to do. And she was in Canberra, as we know, only for a couple of months, there’s no COVID cases in Canberra.
PRIME MINISTER: No.
CREDLIN: She she is a graduate nurse. You know, we can't see her at this point in this middle of trauma doing the wrong thing.
PRIME MINISTER: Of course not.
CREDLIN: It seems inhumane to me?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, it's hard to draw any other conclusion. And I don't really I don't want this to be an ongoing thing between me and the Premier. We need to work together on so many other issues. I mean, the Premier set up this unit where people can try and pursue these things to try and get exemptions. And I welcome that. I welcome the changes she's made to get these boarding school students home. Great. But, you know, we've got to find, days like this where these cases present surely we could have dealt with this better today.
CREDLIN: I just spoke to Bruce Langborne and he's the dad of Mark, Mark himself is dying of cancer in Brisbane, is a father of four, four kids under 13. They were told they'd have to choose one child, now you’re a dad. Could you choose Abby over Lilly to say goodbye to? You know, one, not the other?
PRIME MINISTER: Never. Never.
CREDLIN: In all, in all, yeah well this is the point, right? So in all of this race we have now to protect human life from this virus. Are we losing our humanity?
PRIME MINISTER: Well these, the way these decisions are being made, we're at great risk of that. Of course we are. I believe people during COVID, they're all trying to do the best they can. But when the rules are written in such a way that officials are following them and the way they are being asked to follow them, then that is the great loss that has suffered. We are going to lose so much as a result of this this dreadful virus. And we're all sick to the back teeth of this thing. I just don't want us to lose any more than we have to. And whether that's our humanity or whether that's our kid’s schooling or whether it's that last hug or embrace or whatever it is, I just refused to allow that to be lost to this virus wherever it is avoidable. Now, if someone had been coming from you know inner city Melbourne or something at the moment to Queensland, of course, I think most people would understand, there's a serious community outbreak in Melbourne. There's been no case in the ACT for more than 60 days. I mean, their own rule said, that they were putting forward, that there’d have to be no transmission for 28 days. Well, that's double that. And I just, I'm just mystified at the discretion not exercised today. It's within their gift. It was in their gift. And the gift was denied.
CREDLIN: Rules are for the obedience of fools, and the guidance of wise men and wise women, you know that PM. I've got to ask you, I know you're in between Budget meetings and I've got to ask you about Victoria just quickly, in the Herald Sun today huge cross-section of business leaders, they want to see more from the Premier in terms of a recovery. Now, I know federally you've got COVID group of business leaders trying to drive this economic recovery, you’re not waiting to get to the, to the sort of the end point of the health crisis to start the economic recovery. It's in tandem. What can Victoria do now? What heft have you got to get the Victorian Premier to get the recovery moving now?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I mean the very process you just spoke of, and the COVID Commission we set up with those business leaders. I just met with them yesterday and we've been framing a very detailed response to go back to the Premier and that will be between the Commonwealth and the state government and we will raise that with them in the appropriate way. And we hope that that will help them as they continue to adjust their plans. We've done a lot of work with industry as to how the suggestions that we can positively and constructively make. I said earlier in the week that we would be coming back with constructive feedback, and that's exactly what we're doing. And, you know, the Premier and I, we continue to work together. We might not agree all the time, but that's all right. I mean, that's not unusual. But I appreciate the fact that we're continuing to do that and we'll make that submission. But, you know, you need business. You need industry. You need community groups, not just the government. I mean, Australia is more than the government. It is, it is everybody. And we're going to need everybody to get us out of this. And I know businesses want to be employing people again, but it's got to be done safely. Businesses are saying that. I mean, business are talking about how they’re contact tracing, because they know to open up, they need to get the health outcomes right. I mean, the health is not to be traded off for the economy. You can actually achieve both when you bring them together and work to them together.
CREDLIN: Prime Minister Scott Morrison, thank you for your compassion, but thank you for your time as well tonight.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot, Peta. Good to talk to you.