The AFR View has completely misdiagnosed the quarantine debate, absolving the federal government of any blame for failures across the nation’s hotel quarantine system:
The idea of a national quarantine system, as backed by federal Labor, is superficially attractive. In theory, this would stop stacking possibly infected returnees in CBD hotels, and spread them out in regional barracks-style accommodation, such as the Northern Territory’s Howard Springs facility. But it runs into the same practical challenges that meant a state government-run hotel quarantine system was opted for when the international border was shut in March 2020.
The federal government still lacks the service delivery capacity to run quarantine facilities. It also lacks the infrastructure…
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Labour shortages have also emerged in hospitality and agriculture because Australians will not do these jobs… this underlines the need for a secure quarantine system that permits safe passage across the international border…
Australia does not need more border populism from state premiers. It needs state governments to run a safe and effective hotel quarantine system as part of a Team Australia effort to bring back the migrants, tourists and students and minimise supply-side constraints on the recovery.
Correct me if I am wrong, but the constitution clearly states that the federal government has responsibility for quarantine and managing Australia’s international border. So why has the federal government completely abrogated quarantine responsibility to the states, resulting in quarantine taking place in unsuitable hotels in capital cities?
These hotels were never suitable for quarantine, more so since the virus has gone airborne. The shared ventilation and corridors in these hotels has led to virus infecting workers and other guests, leaking virus into the community and resulting in multiple hard lockdowns, border closures, hundreds of deaths, and many billions of dollars of lost economic activity.
After Victoria’s hotel quarantine failures last winter, and the associated devastating 14 week hard lockdown, the federal government should have moved to establish national open air quarantine facilities in regional areas modelled on Northern Territory’s Howard Springs:
The Australian Medical Association has today backed this view:
Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid has backed calls for the federal government to develop a bulletproof hotel quarantine system.
“We would like to see our governments working together to develop alternatives to the hotels,” Dr Khorshid told ABC…
“With complete carnage going on overseas, we need to continue to protect our country”…
“And the best way to do that we can see would be to develop specific facilities along the lines of what we see in Darwin, near Darwin at Howard Springs. “That is designed to keep people safe, to keep people healthy, to give them a reasonable quality of life while they’re in quarantine, but most importantly to protect Australia from this terrible virus.”
The AFR’s claim that the federal government lacks the service delivery capacity and infrastructure to run quarantine facilities is an excuse, not a reason.
If mining companies can truck in demountables to far out places to house thousands of workers, there is no reason why the federal government cannot establish similar facilities away from capital cities. Laziness is not an excuse.
The main player not backing “Team Australia” is the Morrison Government, who is completely missing in action.
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