Victoria offers to build a 3,000-bed quarantine facility in north Melbourne to help stranded Aussies get home – but it won’t be ready for eight months
Victoria has proposed a new quarantine facility in north Melbourne that could house up to 3,000 returned travellers at once.
The facility would be built from scratch in Mickleham and operated by the state government.
Victoria wants the Commonwealth to fund the design and construction of the site which would be on federal land.
Victoria has proposed a new quarantine facility in north Melbourne that could house up to 3,000 returned travellers
Acting Premier James Merlino – who is filling in while Daniel Andrews recovers from a broken back – has sent the proposal to Scott Morrison and has asked for a decision by September.
The design of the facility, which would start with 500 beds and could be scaled up to have 3,000, would take four months and the construction another four months after that.
Mr Merlino said the location – next to an animal quarantine facility – had been chosen out of ten possible sites because it is close the airport and hospitals.
‘Towards the end of the year, we can have this up and running. The virus, is going to continue to be with us for some time,’ he said.
Queensland has also proposed a quarantine facility west of Brisbane – but the Commonwealth has refused to approve it, saying it has not been given a detailed costing plan.
It comes after the federal government released figures showing fewer than one in 10,000 hotel quarantine guests cause coronavirus to escape into the community – after WA Premier Mark McGowan called for a system overhaul.
A total of 140,355 travellers have been through quarantine since October 27 but the virus has leaked only 13 times.
In other words, Covid-19 has transmitted into the community from just 0.009 per cent of guests.
A total of 140,355 travellers have been through quarantine since October 27 but the virus has leaked only 13 times, federal figures show
However, some doctors say a better way to rate the system is to count the number of leaks resulting from Covid positive guests.
Based on that method, about 1 in 200 cases lead to community transmission, or 0.5 per cent, according to a recent paper in the Medical Journal of Australia.
The stats were released by the federal government after the WA premier slammed the hotel quarantine system as ‘not fit for purpose’ and demanded the Commonwealth use defence bases and migration facilities instead.
Mr McGowan said he was ‘at the end of his tether’ with the prime minister over the issue after the hardline premier locked down two million residents for three days on Friday when the virus escaped from quarantine and caused three local infections.
‘I think it’s becoming more urgent and I suspect all the states are getting pretty heartily sick of it that they have these facilities that are available and they refuse to use them, so we’re saying to the Commonwealth it’s time they step up,’ Mr McGowan said over the weekend.
‘I’m getting to the end of my tether with the Commonwealth handing responsibility to the states and not helping with this responsibility.’
Defence Minister Peter Dutton hit back, saying the states had previously agreed to the hotel quarantine scheme.
A Commonwealth spokesman said defence bases are needed for our soldiers and migration detention centres are not appropriate because they contain criminals facing deportation.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who supports the hotel quarantine system, also lashed Mr McGowan and told him to stop playing the ‘blame game.’
‘Every time you have an outbreak, it isn’t healthy to have these blame games. You have to get on with it and do the job,’ she said on Monday.
Perth’s snap lockdown – the city’s second since January – cancelled ANZAC Day dawn services and confined residents to their homes