Sarah Caisip (left) pictured with her father, Bernard, sister Isabel and mother, Myrna.
Sarah Caisip (left) pictured with her father, Bernard, sister Isabel and mother, Myrna.

Grieving daughter slams PM over ‘circus’

The daughter of a Queensland man, who saw her dad's funeral turn into a political football, has slammed the Prime Minister for "politicising" their grief.

Alexandra Prendergast, the eldest child of Bernard Prendergast, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had used her father's Brisbane funeral to "advance his political agenda".

Sarah Caisip, Ms Prendergast's stepsister, was denied an exemption to see her father before he died from cancer on September 2.

She had travelled from Canberra, which hasn't had a coronavirus case for more than two months, in an attempt to see him before he died but was forced into two weeks hotel quarantine after the ACT was declared a coronavirus hotspot by Queensland health authorities.

Ms Caisip, a 26-year-old nurse from Canberra, learnt of her father's death in hotel quarantine and applied for another coronavirus exemption to attend the funeral on September 14 with her family.

Sarah Caisip (left) pictured with her father, Bernard, sister Isabel and mother, Myrna.
Sarah Caisip (left) pictured with her father, Bernard, sister Isabel and mother, Myrna.


Prime Minister Scott Morrison then became involved, making a number of public pleas through the media to Queensland for Ms Caisip to be granted the funeral exemption.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk then accused the PM of "bullying" her and said she wasn't going to be "intimidated" by Mr Morrison.

Despite the political drama, Queensland health authorities stood firm on its decision to restrict Ms Caisip to a private viewing with heartbreaking photos showing the moment she attended the Brisbane funeral home donned in a Hazmat suit, face mask and face shield.

Sarah Caisip about to see her dad for the last time after his funeral at the Mt Gravatt Cemetery. Picture: Annette Dew
Sarah Caisip about to see her dad for the last time after his funeral at the Mt Gravatt Cemetery. Picture: Annette Dew

In a scathing open letter late last night, Ms Prendergast, 32, accused the PM of using her younger stepsister as a "tool to vilify" Queensland's leaders.

"I am extremely disappointed that you have used my family to try and advance your political agenda," she wrote.

"Your politics and media campaign against the Queensland Premier have made an absolutely devastating time for my family even harder.

"Sarah Caisip should not have been used as a tool to vilify the actions of the Queensland Premier and Health Department.

"I believe you owe my family and all the other families who have suffered an injustice at your hand for not expediting their exemption applications a personal apology."

Ms Prendergast left her Melbourne home in late June to spend time with her father in Brisbane before he died.

However, her father's death wasn't the only tragedy her family was hit with in early September.

Ms Prendergast lost her maternal grandmother to a stroke the day before Bernard died.

Her extended family had similarly applied for an exemption from the Queensland government but didn't hear back in time.

"Both sides of my family have had a death in a family and they've been treated completely differently," Ms Prendergast said.

"Although Scott Morrison has highlighted one case, there's been many, many other cases that are very similar to this case where he has not intervened.

"I think one key point that I would like to make is that it's really important to be consistent to ensure that everyone is treated equally and it is fair.

"It's difficult for individuals to make sacrifices, like not saying goodbye to a loved one, if they're seeing somebody else being granted an exemption to say goodbye to a loved one."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has intervened in ‘dozens’ of exemption cases, a spokesman said. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Martin Ollman
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has intervened in ‘dozens’ of exemption cases, a spokesman said. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Martin Ollman

A spokesman for Mr Morrison said the Prime Minister had intervened in "dozens of cases", not just Ms Caisip's.

"The Prime Minister is very sorry for the family's loss. His intervention was intended to be made only directly to the Premier as he has done on dozens of other cases. It is unfortunate that the Premier chose to refer to her conversation with the Prime Minister in the parliament," the spokesman said.

"The Prime Minister's preference was that this matter be handled discreetly. The Prime Minister wishes Alexandra and her family every comfort and condolence at this very difficult time."