BORDER CLOSURE

Moree added to border bubble one day too late for QLD family who were unable to attend dad's funeral

Billy Fing (bottom right) with his five children - (back) Nerida David, Nigel Fing, Justin Fing, Shelley Richardson and (front) Christine Ellem, none of whom were able to attend his funeral last week. Photo: supplied
Billy Fing (bottom right) with his five children - (back) Nerida David, Nigel Fing, Justin Fing, Shelley Richardson and (front) Christine Ellem, none of whom were able to attend his funeral last week. Photo: supplied

Well-known Moree man William 'Billy' Fing was laid to rest without any of his family present at his funeral last week as a result of the hard Queensland border closure.

All five of Mr Fing's children - Christine, Nigel, Nerida, Shelley and Justin - live at the Gold Coast and were unable to get exemptions in time to attend his funeral in Moree and return to Queensland without quarantining.

"I'm a pensioner, I don't have $2000 to quarantine," Mr Fing's daughter Christine Ellem said.

"It would have just cost us too much. So we had to make the sad choice not to go. It's not that we didn't want to go, but whatever avenue you went, you were blocked."

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As a result, not one of his five children - or 19 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren - were able to attend his funeral on Thursday, September 3.

"We were just devastated," Ms Ellem said.

"Not one family member was there. The only people we class as family who were there was Peter Hobday and Dennis Humphries, who were really good to dad."

Well-known Moree resident Billy Fing died alone on August 20, aged 87. Not one of his family members was able to attend his funeral on September 3 because of the hard Queensland border closure. Photo: supplied

Well-known Moree resident Billy Fing died alone on August 20, aged 87. Not one of his family members was able to attend his funeral on September 3 because of the hard Queensland border closure. Photo: supplied

To make the situation worse, Moree was added to the border zone on Friday - one day too late for Mr Fing's family - after Mungindi lost its only supermarket to fire.

If Moree was part of the bubble earlier, Mr Fing's family would have been able to make his funeral.

Instead, they watched a live stream of it from their own homes.

"I'm so angry," Ms Ellem said.

"We couldn't get an exemption but they bring footballers into the state, they opened the border for boarders and added Moree to the border zone after Mungindi lost its supermarket.

"It's double standards if ever I've seen it. Since when has sport been put ahead of someone's life?

"Why was Moree never in the bubble to start with? Why did it take a shop to burn down for it to be added?

A supermarket can be replaced, but we will never get the chance to say goodbye again.

Christine Ellem

"A supermarket can be replaced, but we will never get the chance to say goodbye again.

"It was our birthright to be there to honour that man and say goodbye to him.

"It's so wrong. And not only for us, but wrong for so many other families."

Mr Fing's wife died 17 years ago, so he was on his own when he passed away, aged 87, on August 20.

Bill and Lesley Fing on their wedding day in 1954. Lesley sadly passed away 17 years ago. Photo: supplied

Bill and Lesley Fing on their wedding day in 1954. Lesley sadly passed away 17 years ago. Photo: supplied

When Mr Fing was told he didn't have much longer to live, Ms Ellem came to Moree to care for her dad for five weeks before the Queensland Premier announced the border closure.

"When the border was closing, he told me to go home," Ms Ellem said.

"He died 11 days after the border closed."

Ms Ellem said Logan's Funerals were fantastic, and even drove Mr Fing's body to Goondiwindi to give the family a chance to say goodbye since they were unsuccessful in their attempts to gain exemptions.

Logan's also live-streamed the service, but Ms Ellem said it wasn't the same as being there in person.

"That's pretty sad when you've got to sit at home and watch that," she said.

"We were all on our own.

"A couple of my family also have issues with closure. One sister and my sister-in-law break down all the time because they didn't get that closure."

Ms Ellem said she certainly won't be voting for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in the upcoming state election and although it's too late for her family, she would like to see the Premier make it easier for other families to get an exemption to attend a loved one's funeral.