Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take more responsibility of the country’s international quarantine program to keep out the new highly infectious variants of the CCP virus.
While the Commonwealth is responsible for quarantining international arrivals, states and territories make their own rules due to Australia’s federated political system.
States and territories have agreed to quarantine returning residents in hotels and at a camp since the pandemic began a year ago.
But after some outbreaks were linked to hotel quarantine, Palaszczuk proposed moving quarantine out of CBD areas to a facility in an unused mining camp in Queensland.
A similar arrangement exists at the Northern Territory’s Howard Springs facility.
“Just as we weren’t willing to take chances when we declared a public health emergency 12 months ago, we are not willing to take chances when it comes to keeping new and more infectious strains out of Queensland,” Palaszczuk wrote on Twitter.
“That’s why I am publicly calling on the prime minister to take greater responsibility for international quarantine.”
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) January 28, 2021
While she said state-run quarantine was first class, the new virus variants overseas increased the threat to the health of Australians and the economy.
“All ideas must be on the table as contend with these new highly infectious strains,” she said.
The premier called for a federally run and funded national quarantine plan with adequate Defence Force and Border Force staffing.
She said Morrison should also consider consolidating many hotel quarantine sites into centralised hubs.
“With potentially another unpredictable year ahead of us, now is the time for the prime minister to step up to his responsibilities and put in place a well-funded, adequately resourced, nationally consistent international quarantine plan,” Palaszczuk said.