Agriculture Minister David Littleproud

June 7, 2021

Member for Maranoa David Littleproud has described a proposal by Wagner Corporation to build a quarantine facility at Wellcamp Airport as “half-baked”.

Mr Littleproud told interviewer Pete Stefanovic on Sky News on Monday morning the States had wanted to handle quarantine requirements for returning travellers in hotels “because there was a real issue around the number of people who stay in hotels and they were worried about losing jobs”.

“So in whole, it has worked well. I don’t think we should reflect poorly on what the States have done with respect to hotel quarantine – it has worked 99.9 per cent of the time.”

Mr Littleproud said a plan to build a purpose-built quarantine centre at Avalon in Victoria was “a very professional proposal”.

The Federal Government and the Victorian State Government recently signed a memorandum of understanding in regards to the construction of a purpose-built facility in that State.

The Victorian Government’s preferred site was at Mickelham, next to an existing quarantine facility for plants and animals,  however the Federal Government has backed a proposal near Avalon Airport.

Last month, Linfox Airports chair David Fox said the quarantine facility could be built within six months at Avalon if it was given the green light.

“Victoria put a very professional proposal to the Federal Government, through Avalon, and we’re happy to support that,” Mr Littleproud told Sky.

“Now, obviously, other States after National Cabinet would have to meet the requirements that National Cabinet agreed to around being in close proximity to a tertiary facility, a hospital … to be able to handle it.

“I mean, we’ve seen a proposal from Queensland that was half-baked, and out in regional Toowoomba that didn’t have the capacity nor capability to handle such a proposal.”

Mr Littleproud said there was “very limited scope” in Queensland “in terms of tertiary facilities”.

“(We) need to have it in close proximity to tertiary medical facilities – not just transfer a problem from metropolitan Australia to regional Australia and say ‘we’ve done our bit and good luck to regional Australia’.”

“So that’s something the Queensland Government would have to go back to the drawing board on and put these proposals.

“Again, this is something that the States bring forward.

“The Federal Government simply look at these proposals once they are brought forward because quarantine is a shared responsibility, despite what the Labor Party is saying that we own it all.

“It doesn’t, we actually do it in partnership … cast your mind back to the Ruby Princess. The only reason that we provided visas for those people to come off those boats is because the NSW Health Department said we could do so.

“And as in every State, they have decided their own individual health protocols that we’ve accepted.

“So this is a partnership, and once they’re agreed, we simply stamp the visas.”

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