The Victorian government has fast-tracked a bill through the legislative assembly of state Parliament that will see hotel quarantine guests pay around $3,000 for a mandatory two-week stay in Melbourne.
A revamped version of the hotel quarantine program is now into its second day, and 235 people have successfully landed in the state capital so far. Overseas returnees have arrived on flights from Colombo, Doha, Hong Kong, Manilla, Singapore, and Tokyo.
The new-look quarantine system is overseen by Police and Emergency Minister Lisa Neville, who said so far the system is running smoothly and there have only been minor issues.
"I'm absolutely confident that this program is robust and is going to deliver what we said it would," she said.
The government has been preparing the program for five months, according to Neville. However, they only submitted a bill to charge guests for quarantine last week.
Shadow Police Minister David Southwick of the Victorian Liberal Party said he was only briefed on the legislation on Dec. 4. He said in a legislative assembly debate on Tuesday that the last-minute and chaotic approach is indicative of the Andrews government.
"At 4.30 (p.m.) on Friday, I got a phone call from the police minister's chief of staff saying we need to rush through a bill to enable to government to charge for hotel quarantine," he said.
"The government had five months to sort this out!" Southwick said
An amendment to the bill has been tabled by Southwick and was overturned by a Labor majority vote. His proposal was to waive fees for those who cannot afford it.
The outbreak was the epicentre to 99 percent of Victoria's CCP virus cases. Response by the Victorian government saw the enforcement of tough lockdown measures.
As of Tuesday, the state has gone 39 days without recording a new COVID-19 infection.
Lisa Neville's Quarantine Fees bill passed through the legislative at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and now moves to the Upper House for debate before it can have its royal assent.