Family defends Qld funeral attended by 250
THE brother of a Cape York indigenous elder laid to rest last weekend has defended the large funeral gathering despite only a small number of exemptions granted above the 30 person cap outlined by Queensland Health.
Police said a gathering of 250 people attended a Mapoon house, 80km north of Weipa despite the latest COVID law limiting participants at outside funerals to 30.
Kowanyama River House owner Thomas Hudson said every effort was made to ensure regulations were adhered to.
"We worked with all government bodies from the Prime Minister down," he said.
"They allowed us to have 100 people within the house itself, outside it's out of our control. But we took all measures to (distance attendees) 1.5m apart and we did not have 100 people inside the yard."
Under the government's latest set of restrictions, a maximum of 30 mourners and to up to three funeral officials are permitted.
But exemptions can be made on compassionate grounds at the request of individual mourners wishing to attend.
Tropical Public Health Services director Richard Dr Richard Gair previously said he was not aware of mass exemptions that could account for up to 250 at the funeral.
"As far as I am aware the chief health officer did not authorise that many people for a funeral," he said.
A source from within Queensland Health revealed 20 exemptions were successfully applied for.
Mr Hudson conceded family organising the funeral had limited control over how many people showed up.
"We have got family far and wide but we don't invite them. It's up to them to come.
"It's hard from an Aboriginal point of view. You don't just brush people off when they are distant relations or extended family," he said.
Mr Hudson said one mourner did fly in from Brisbane but underwent the mandatory 14-day quarantine before entering a biosecurity exclusion zone.
Weipa police said large quantities of illicit booze was seized from mourners entering an area in which a carriage limit was in place.
Originally published as Family defends Cape funeral attended by 250