Coronavirus diplomat restrictions called for by ACT, Queensland governments

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has backed Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's calls for more restrictions on diplomats and consular officials travelling to Australia, after a man reported to be an official from Afghanistan tested positive to coronavirus in Queensland.

Under the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, diplomats can't be detained, meaning consular staff returning to Australia have been exempt from the hotel quarantine rules that have applied to travellers entering the country since March.

The latest case in Queensland is a man who flew from Kabul to Sydney and then on to Maroochydore on Friday, but the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has denied he is a consular official.

The department said instead he is a "private security contractor".

On Monday Ms Palaszczuk said the exemptions needed to stop and she would bring it up at national cabinet.

"I think now is the time for overseas travellers to definitely go into mandatory hotel quarantine," she told reporters.


Most consular officials are based in Canberra, and the national capital has already had one case of the virus in a consular official who was self-isolating at home in Canberra after driving back from Sydney.

Mr Barr said the issue had already been discussed at national cabinet in that context.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

"Consistent with my position at that point I also support the Queensland Premier," he said on Monday.

He acknowledged the challenge around international conventions but said it was a clear risk point.

"A way forward is for DFAT to put in place an agreed protocol with the diplomatic missions," he said.

"I don't believe the diplomatic missions would seek to be an undue risk to Australia and I think that a sensible conversation can take place."

This story ACT wants restrictions on diplomats arriving in Australia first appeared on The Canberra Times.