Labor is demanding the federal government establish purpose-built quarantine centres in each state and territory as hotels continue to house the bulk of people entering Australia despite state governments making proposals for facilities outside capital cities.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese called on the Morrison government to build and run fit-for-purpose quarantine hubs in every jurisdiction.
“Hotels are built for tourism, not for medical quarantine,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
Victoria is the latest state government to ask for the federal government to back a purpose-built facility on the northern fringe of Melbourne.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton dismissed the request as political smoke and mirrors, with the federal government expected to stump up $200 million after a $15 million state contribution.
Mr Albanese said Prime Minister Scott Morrison was being complacent about quarantine, which along with vaccines was critical to economic recovery.
“Enough is enough,” the Labor leader said.
The Northern Territory’s Howard Springs mining camp has been used to house people being brought home on repatriation flights from overseas.
The joint federal-territory operation is increasing its capacity from 800 to 2000 but the Commonwealth has so far rejected similar centres in other parts of Australia.
Queensland and Western Australia have proposed regional quarantine hubs to guard against hotel leaks causing lockdowns or spreading the virus.
State and territory leaders were expected to raise quarantine with Mr Morrison at Friday’s national cabinet meeting.
Earlier in the week, the prime minister defended the success of hotels.
“The success rate of containing breaches in the hotel quarantine network is 99.99 per cent,” he told reporters in Darwin.
“Now, I’d say that’s a pretty impressive stat and we’re looking to keeping that in place.”
The federal opposition also wants the government to back national standards for quarantine as recommended in an October review.
“I don’t know why it is that this prime minister continually asks for reviews and then ignores it when he receives them or sometimes keeps those reviews secret,” Mr Albanese said
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