‘Kick in the guts’: Origin crowd an insult to Jake’s family
A grieving Gold Coast family barred from having more than 100 people at the funeral of a Bali bombing survivor say it is an insult that 50,000 were allowed at this week's State of Origin decider.
The family of Jake Ryan, killed in a freak accident in Italy last month, spent three weeks trying to secure an exemption to rigid funeral restrictions - only for a change to the rules to be publicly announced in the middle of the funeral service last Friday.
From this week, 200 people are allowed to gather for funerals, up from 100 people previously.
Mr Ryan's family also expressed frustration when they were told they could have a large crowd for a memorial at Metricon Stadium, but not for a funeral.
Federal Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton also criticised the disparity between State of Origin crowds and funeral restrictions during a radio interview yesterday.
After taking time to process his brother's death, Mitch Ryan said yesterday inconsistencies over rules had made the hardest time of his life even worse.
"It was another kick in the guts," he said.
"They can generate revenue by getting 50,000 to the footy so they're happy to allow that, but there's no benefit to the government in allowing bigger gatherings at funerals so we weren't a priority.
"Then after all the time we spent trying to get it changed we come out of the funeral and hear they were increasing the limit and letting people dance again.
"Gee, thank you very much.
"It's disgusting the way we and other people like us have been treated."
His brother was a talented Aussie rules footballer who played for almost a dozen clubs and later coached at the Gold Coast Suns after surviving the horror of the Bali bombings on an end-of-season footy trip in 2002.
Friends from across the country had wanted to attend the funeral but many were told they couldn't come once the guest list reached 100.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Queensland Health said the timing of last week's announcement to increase crowd limits was made in consultation with the latest health advice.
"Any easing of restrictions comes into effect at a time we believe is safe," she said.
Mr Dutton yesterday told radio listeners on 2GB he supported an increase in sporting crowd limits, but found continued restrictions on funerals unacceptable.
"Funerals are a once-in-a-lifetime chance to show respect to a loved one," he said.
Originally published as 'Kick in the guts': Origin crowd an insult to Jake's family