Confusion over a diplomatic loophole
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.
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”.
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.
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 required criteria.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last week said she wanted the consular “loophole” closed and promised to raise it at National Cabinet.
The Queensland government unilaterally banned the exemptions on Tuesday night.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday the issue was “not raised or addressed in that way” at National Cabinet.