Outrage over Costo’s coronavirus question
MEMBER for Whitsunday Jason Costigan's question to parliament regarding coronavirus has caused outrage in the community with a business owner saying it should have been fact-checked before it was submitted.
The question asked; "Will the minister investigate unconfirmed reports that tourists have presented to the Proserpine Hospital with the symptoms of coronavirus and that they were turned away due to a lack of testing facilities and returned to their place or accommodation?"
A spokesperson for Queensland Health responded to the claim saying that Proserpine Hospital "is equipped to assess and test people for coronavirus" and would be able to effectively respond in the event of an outbreak.
However, owner of Fish D'Vine Kevin Collins said he was frustrated that Mr Costigan had not checked with relevant health authorities before tabling the question.
"It was a rumour and it took me three minutes to find out the facts," he said.
"Surely our local member could have been a bit more responsible.
"It's just a pity that someone in a position of great authority who people turn to in time of distress to for real news had fake news."
Mr Collins was concerned that rumours like the ones circulated regarding the Proserpine Hospital could cause unwarranted worry and affect tourism in the area.
"Everyone is nervous about it," he said.
"Yes, it can affect tourism, but it worries schoolkids and it can keep parents up at night.
"It just needed to be fact checked before it was blown out of proportion.
"It didn't need our elected representative feeding the rumour mill."
However, Mr Costigan said he would "make no apology" for bringing the issue to the Minister of Health and Ambulance Services' attention.
"In the context of what happened and what I did yesterday, I make no apology for it," he said.
"It had to be asked, the question was asked, and that's all there is to it.
"I treated (the phone call) seriously and needed to make a judgement call in parliament.
"It is my duty to speak out in parliament, I'm not like a mannequin or a crash test dummy who sits there and does nothing.
"It is disappointing people have rushed to condemn me for scaremongering.
"Sometimes you have to speak out no matter what the circumstances."
Mr Costigan upheld that he had no reason to believe the phone call was a hoax and acted based on what he was communicated at the time.
"If I had turned up (to the hospital) and started taking photos and probing it would have gone down like a lead balloon," he said.
"I had the best interests of our community at heart."