The Age Editorial has demanded the $580 million 1000-bed quarantine hub in Mickleham Victoria be shut down as it is no longer needed:
We are unlikely to get any recognition that it was a poor use of taxpayer money. What we do get is optimistic claims that it could yet be used to house Ukrainian refugees (when?) or could become an infectious diseases hospital (funded by whom?); that it’s been “invaluable” for quarantining members of the community; and that the federal government should have presciently begun work on the camp even before the pandemic struck. “It would have been extraordinarily handy to have two years ago,” said the then health minister, Martin Foley, in April…
But we have to ask: why is it still operational at all? Pack it up and shut it down.
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The Queensland Government has built similar quarantine facilities near the Wellcamp airport in Toowoomba, as well as Pinkenba – both of which now lay idle.
While it is true that these facilities arrived too late to prevent the spread of the virus during the pandemic’s early phases, they are still a good long-term investment for the nation.
This won’t the the last global pandemic and Australia must have safe quarantine facilities on standby for when that time comes.
We apply a similar risk management approach to the military by having a force on standby for when a conflict arises.
Australia needs to be ready to respond when the next pandemic arrives. We never know what is around the corner. Think of them as a form of insurance.
In the meantime, these facilities can be used for crisis accommodation, such as housing victims of natural disasters, displaced persons, or the like.
I have been highly critical of our governments over the pandemic. But that criticism does not extend to the decision to build quarantine facilities, which should already have been in place when COVID hit. Hopefully we’ll be far better placed the next time around.
The Age’s short-termism beggars belief. We’d disband the military using the same flawed logic. We’d also cancel insurance policies as they are currently ‘wasted’ spending.
Hilariously, The Age Editorial wrote the polar opposite in May 2021, claiming “Canberra must do everything it can to improve nation’s quarantine system”:
Once a dormant mining camp on the outskirts of Darwin, the Howard Springs quarantine facility, which was run until earlier this month by the Commonwealth, is the gold standard in Australia.
And yet, for all the advantages of such a system, the Commonwealth has been unwilling to replicate that model in any other state or territory…
Enough is enough. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated he supports Victoria’s proposed new 500-bed quarantine facility in Mickleham or Avalon…
Meanwhile, Victorians are once again paying the price for a quarantine system that is not up to scratch…
The federal government must ensure every quarantine hotel in every jurisdiction adheres to best practice, and that it supports all efforts to quickly expand access to purpose-built facilities.
Our governments must not close these quarantine facilities. Just mothball them until they are required and employ a skeleton maintenance staff.
Indeed, Howard Springs in the Northern Territory was a mothballed accommodation facility left over from the mining construction boom. How lucky was that?
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