3 May, 2021
Zali Steggall MP is calling on the federal government to urgently implement a national quarantine facility to accommodate Australian citizens stranded in India.
The recommendation was made in Jane Halton’s National Review of Hotel Quarantine (The Halton Review), tabled to National Cabinet in October 2020, which states: "The Australian Government should consider a national facility for quarantine to be used for emergency situations, emergency evacuations or urgent scalability."
“The Halton Review highlighted the need for surge capacity to be established, recommending Howard Springs as a potential site for this purpose, yet it has been used for everyday quarantine needs. Now, we are in a place where we have an emergency and there is no surge capacity,” Ms Steggall MP said. “Yet again, we see the Morrison Government ignoring the advice and implementing ad-hoc policies with no long term plan for how we manage the pandemic.
“What Professor Paul Kelly and the Government are really saying – is let’s leave Australians stranded overseas in a life threatening situation to avoid pressure on our local quarantine system, which we know is not up to the task, rather than urgently increase our quarantine capacity and establish a fit-for-purpose quarantine facility.
“It’s also misleading of the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly to say that he hasn’t recommended the penalties associated with the current India ban.
“His advice of 30 April 2021 clearly acknowledges the consequences and penalties of a determination under Section 477 of the Biosecurity Act and clearly states that he is satisfied that a determination made under the Act is ‘necessary to prevent and control the entry into, or the emergence, establishment or spread of COVID-19 in Australia’.
“The CMO admits that ‘quarantine leakage presents a significant risk to the Australian community’ and that, alarmingly, ‘Australia’s quarantine and health resources needed to prevent and control COVID-19 introduced into Australia from international arrivals are limited’.
“I therefore call on the Commonwealth Government to urgently implement recommendation 6 of the Halton Review into Hotel Quarantine, which states: "The Australian Government should consider a national facility for quarantine to be used for emergency situations, emergency evacuations or urgent scalability."
For media interviews with Zali Steggall MP, please call Sarah Whyte 0407 790 892