Diplomatic loophole remains despite rule change

 

 

The Palaszczuk Government has left open a loophole that will allow foreign diplomats and consular staff to avoid mandatory hotel quarantine.

The Government last week banned diplomats returning from overseas and interstate hot spots from receiving hotel quarantine exemptions after claiming the "loophole" was too risky as global infection rates increased.

The Courier-Mail has confirmed foreign officials are included in the ban, which started from 1am Saturday, but will only have to enter the state-run quarantine system if they give "consent".

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk does not want diplomats and consular officials bypassing mandatory hotel quarantine. Pic Annette Dew
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk does not want diplomats and consular officials bypassing mandatory hotel quarantine. Pic Annette Dew

A Health Department spokesman could not provide figures about how many diplomatic or consular exemptions had been granted or rejected in Queensland.

And he did not directly answer a question about whether the government had any legal advice that it could force foreign officials into quarantine without breaching the Vienna Convention, which ensures diplomats have freedom of movement and are protected from detention.

"Foreign consular officials or employees arriving in Queensland will quarantine in hotels for two weeks with consent," he said in a statement.

 

"These employees will need to provide their relevant government issued identification or consular official or diplomat passport of a foreign country when entering Queensland."

He also said returning Defence personnel were included in the ban but "active military personnel required to be on duty in Queensland" could apply for an exemption.

It's understood the Queensland Government has received about 10,500 requests for an exemption since June 18 but less than 40 have met the criteria to quarantine outside of government-nominated accommodation.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young granted an exemption from hotel quarantine to celebrity Dannii Minogue in July. Pic Annette Dew
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young granted an exemption from hotel quarantine to celebrity Dannii Minogue in July. Pic Annette Dew

Celebrity Dannii Minogue was granted an exemption in July and allowed to quarantine at a private residence.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last week jumped on the case of a Toowoomba man who was granted a consular exemption by Queensland officials and then took a packed Jetstar flight from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast while infections with coronavirus.

She said she wanted the consular "loophole" closed and promised to raise it at National Cabinet

The Courier-Mail revealed the man should not have been granted the exemption because he was a private security contractor at the Australian Embassy in Afghanistan.

The Queensland Government unilaterally banned the exemptions on Tuesday night.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday the issue "not raised or addressed in that way" at National Cabinet.

 

 

 

Originally published as Diplomatic loophole remains despite rule change



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