Rocky family’s desperate bid for border crossing exemption
CAUGHT between a rock and a hard place, a Rockhampton family is desperately lobbying the Queensland Government for an exemption to drive with all of their worldly possessions across the Queensland border.
For almost six months, Norman Gardens resident Mellissa Schofield has planned to relocate her partner Ben Grayson and his children Holly, 8, and Xavier, 10, from Lismore, New South Wales, back to Rockhampton where they would live with her and her mother.
Once the border restrictions eased in July, Ms Schofield pushed ahead with her plan, booking the removal truck to pick up the family's belongings on August 31, booking the house cleaners and notifying the real estate to hand the keys back on September 3.
"Before we could have my partner's house packed up and moved the new harder restrictions came into place," Ms Schofield said.
When Queensland slammed shut the southern border again in August, it left Ms Schofield, her family, their two vehicles and worldly possessions unable to cross unless they were stowed aboard an aeroplane.
"We spent all of our saved money to pay for the truck and cleaners, leaving just enough for fuel to get back up to Rockhampton," she said.
"Queensland Health have told us that we have to leave our cars in NSW and fly into Brisbane before having to spend 14 days in mandatory quarantine."
Ms Schofield's situation was complicated by being five months' pregnant and suffering from endometriosis and interstitial cystitis - needing to get back to Rockhampton for antenatal appointments, and to give birth with the support of her mother.
Given that her partner and his children were autistic, quarantining for a fortnight in the close confines of a hotel room also presented a daunting challenge.
"We have asked for an exemption to allow us to drive across the border and go straight to the quarantine motel," she said.
"This has been denied by Queensland Health. We aren't trying to get out of mandatory quarantine, we just want to be allowed to take our cars with us.
"If not both then just one. We cannot afford flights to QLD, nor can we afford to have no car once we move."
Desperate to find a solution to the problem, Ms Schofield has reached out to her local members of parliament to take up her case.
While issues with the Queensland border were outside Capricornia MP Michelle Landry's control, Keppel MP Brittany Lauga's office raised the family's case with the Health Minister Steven Miles' office and Queensland Health.
Late on Friday afternoon, there was a breakthrough with a Queensland Health official contacting the Morning Bulletin to confirm that they had granted the family an exemption to drive across the border.
They will still have to quarantine for 14 days before making their way up to Rockhampton.