Two Australian states with the support of two of the country’s wealthiest men are pushing for purpose-built CCP virus quarantine facilities to be developed outside of Queensland’s and Victoria’s capital cities.
The move comes amid a push by the Labor states for the federal government to take over the quarantine system after the Queensland government called for quarantine hubs to be set up away from the major cities.
The Queensland and Victorian governments have confirmed that talks are underway and a proposal has been put to the federal government for the construction of purpose-built facilities.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles gave a press conference alongside Treasurer Cameron Dick and construction materials billionaire John Wagner from the site of one of the proposed facilities at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport on Tuesday.
Miles confirmed the state government has been facilitating between Wagner and the federal government, which is considering the proposal.
“The ball is largely in the federal government’s court now,” Miles said. “We’ve put forward a lot of information. We’ve answered a lot of questions. And now it’s up to the federal government to decide whether they will act to keep communities safe.”
The proposed Queensland facility will house 1,000 returned Australians and will be built by Wagner who said he had not asked any level of government for funding.
“It’s a user pays facility, so it’s self-funding. There is no money coming from the state and federal governments,” Wagner said.
However, he also said the facility would charge the Queensland government per person according to the published flat rate listed on the Queensland Health website. He said Queensland would then “on-charge to the federal government, I assume.”
When asked why the facility was necessary given Queensland’s record of containing virus outbreaks, Wagner said, “Because I think this quarantine thing is going to go on for quite some time.”
Meanwhile, in Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews said a senior group of officials endorsed by cabinet were looking into a similar purpose-built “quarantine centre” at several locations, with either Avalon Airport near Geelong or Tullamarine Airport as the most promising.
The Victorian facility would be based on the Howard Springs model in the Northern Territory and provide a lower-risk option than hotel quarantine.
“People would be in the same location but would not be sharing the same spaces, so they’re not under the same roofline,” Andrews said on Tuesday. “It would be a cabin-style, village-style environment where there would be fresh air where there would be not zero risk, but lower risk.”
He added: “I think there is a compelling argument for this, not just in Melbourne; not just in the Northern Territory.”
Andrews wants national cabinet to discuss what can be done in light of the UK variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
The hotel quarantine system has failed twice in Victoria, leading to strict lockdowns which lasted for months in 2020, and another 5-day lockdown in February.
Avalon Airport provides more space for the facility, and its owner, billionaire Lindsay Fox, owner of the Linfox Group, confirmed with Australia’s public broadcaster that he has been in talks with the state government about the construction of a facility.
The ABC reported that Avalon Airport’s chief executive Justin Giddings said the Andrews government approached him late on Monday night with the idea.
“I think this is a really good idea. No-one has said no, everyone has been really receptive. Everyone I’ve spoken to has been very positive,” Giddings said. “We are 10 kilometres from any residential towns. This area would be located well away from other passengers and is a secure environment.”