The Howard Springs CCP virus quarantine facility near Darwin in the Northern Territory was given the green light to increase capacity at Friday’s national cabinet meeting of Australian premiers, chief ministers, and the prime minister.
The decision was made to expand the facility to be able to process 2,000 people per fortnight, up from 850, over the next few months. It will allow for more international arrivals and help repatriate stranded Australians stuck overseas amid the pandemic.
“That will be done over the next few months, and that is an important addition to the capacity of those quarantine facilities, to receive those return chartered flights that Australia has been putting in place for many, many months,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters after the meeting.
“That is where people will quarantine,” he said. “The other arrival caps remain as we had them before.”
Morrison said he was looking forward to when the Victorian government will decide to accept international flights again.
Victoria implemented strict border lockdowns and has not accepted flights since the hotel outbreak before the Australian Open tennis tournament. However, an estimated 10,000 Victorians are waiting to return home from overseas.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said other states were pulling their weight therefore it would be a “much fairer arrangement” if Victoria also did its part.
Meanwhile, the Queensland government has pressured the federal government for an answer on supporting the construction of a new quarantine camp.
The Wagner corporation wants to build a private quarantine facility, which is designed to house 1,000 beds, near its Toowoomba Wellcamp airport.
The group has already submitted all information to the federal government and is currently waiting for approval.
“They have got all the information they need. There’s no rocket science to this,” Wagner corporation co-founder John Wagner told The Australian Financial Review.
“I don’t really know what the issue is. For me, it’s a no-brainer,” he said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the success of the project would rely on the co-operation between both levels of the government.
“It’s a very simple question, are you interested or not?” the premier said. “It’s got to be a two-way partnership, it’s not one person said something and one person said another. You either want to work together collaboratively and get it to happen or you don’t.”
The Queensland government wants the federal government to pay for the construction and in return, the state would increase its cap on arrivals.