The Queensland state government is considering an Australian federal government proposal for a CCP virus quarantine facility near the Brisbane Airport.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has offered to pay for the 1,000-bed facility on the site of the Damascus Barracks at Pinkenba.
Under the proposal, Queensland would build and operate the facility, which Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said had previously been considered but was ruled out by the state due to asbestos on site.
The new federal proposal comes five months after Queensland first proposed a quarantine facility at Wellcamp Airport, near Toowoomba, about 130km from Brisbane, the state’s capital.
Miles indicated his preference for a quarantine facility in a regional area but said he welcomed working with federal officials to find a way to safely build a facility in the urban Brisbane area.
“This was a one-and-a-half page letter received by us late last night, just after it was provided to the Courier Mail,” Miles told reporters on Friday.
“The only detail in the letter is an address. I just note that when Queensland provided a 15-page early proposal, we were told that that was far too little detail.
“Now we will work with the Commonwealth through that detail. Our officers have already started analysis on that site but there is a lot more work to be done,” he said.
The deputy premier called for the federal government to provide more details for the Pinkenba proposal while reiterating his case for the Wellcamp site.
He wants the prime minister to keep the Toowoomba proposal on the table, saying the plan is well advanced and therefore can be built more quickly, and is scalable beyond 1,000 beds.
“I think what Queenslanders liked about the regional quarantine proposal was the distance between this facility and people’s homes … and an urban area,” he said.
“This Pinkenba proposal is in the suburbs of Brisbane.”
In his letter, Morrison said Queensland’s plan for a facility at Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba did not meet his requirement, including beinge on Commonwealth lan, and within an hours’ drive of a tertiary hospital.
Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has attacked the prime minister for rejecting her plan for the Toowoomba facility, saying if he’d agreed it would already be open.
She’s repeatedly warned that the use of hotels for quarantine increases the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks because they are not set up for infection control.
“Our hotels were not meant to be the last line of defence for this type of infectious disease,” she said this week in urging the prime minister to approve the Toowoomba plan.
But on Friday, her deputy premier admitted that the state would still rely on hotel quarantine to meet demand under both proposals.
“We would continue to envisage a level of hotel quarantine going forward under either proposal,” Miles said.
Currently, there are about 3,500 people in hotel quarantine in Queensland.
This comes as Morrison confirmed on Friday that a purpose-built, 1,000-bed quarantine facility for Melbourne had been green-lit for construction.