Phillip Thompson calls for urgent co-operation to ease Palm Island restrictions
Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson is calling on the Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council and Queensland State Labor Government to work together to allow Palm Island residents back to Townsville to obtain essential supplies.
Under current Biosecurity Act restrictions for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities implemented due to COVID-19, residents cannot re-enter Palm Island unless they have self-quarantined for 14 days.
Mr Thompson said the restrictions meant residents couldn’t travel to Townsville to go shopping for items not available on the island and couldn’t even leave the island’s shores to go fishing for food without the 14-day quarantine rule kicking in.
“I understand the need for protecting our more vulnerable communities, but the situation is getting very dire on Palm,” Mr Thompson said.
“As the weather cools down, residents are in desperate need of winter woollies and warm bedding – but they can’t go to Townsville to buy them without having to hole up in an expensive hotel on the mainland for two weeks.
“The situation has become untenable, and with no new cases in our region for 33 days, the time has come to relax restrictions for essential travel.”
Mr Thompson said he backed Palm Island Mayor Mislam Sam’s calls for the easing of restrictions, but it was up to Mr Sam and the Queensland Government to work together to request the Federal Government to change its determination.
“I’ve been advised that the Mayor, as the chair of the Local Disaster Management Group, must contact the State Government Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships – who was Jackie Trad up until a few days ago – and come to an agreement about the easing of restrictions,” he said.
“Then we at the Federal Government level can put the wheels in motion to change the rules with the stroke of a pen.
“I’ve tried to raise the issue with the Local State Labor MP Scott Stewart but unfortunately he isn’t taking my calls.
“There are people on the Island who are missing out on basic necessities so it’s important the three levels of government work together to achieve a positive outcome for the people of Palm Island as soon as possible.”