The Prime Minister has again ridiculed Queensland’s bid to establish a regional quarantine facility in Toowoomba, insisting he “couldn’t get straight answers” from Annastacia Palaszczuk and for her government to “do the homework”.
The Queensland Premier was the first to propose moving returning travellers out of the city-based hotel quarantine sites and put forward a 1000-bed prospect near an airport at Wellcamp paid for by construction company Wagners.
But Scott Morrison doubled down on his stoush with the state government during a press appearance in Brisbane, declaring a similar bid from the Victorian government was “chalk and cheese” compared with what the Sunshine State had pitched.
“Victoria put a very comprehensive proposal to us,” he told reporters on Monday morning. “Something we can actually work with. And we are.
RELATED: Palaszczuk again demands regional quarantine
The Prime Minister is travelling around the Sunshine State. Picture: Adam TaylorSource:Supplied
“The biggest difficulties with that proposal is it’s not near a major capital city where there’s a major hospital.
“The idea you can put it in the desert somewhere, I know that Toowoomba isn’t a desert, but they need to be close to major capital city airports. They’re coming to Brisbane – that’s a very long trek to Toowoomba.”
The Prime Minister told the Palaszczuk government to “do the homework” and “get the detail right and it's for them to put forward a comprehensive submission like the Victorians have”.
“There’s an opportunity to supplement what is happening in hotel quarantine … that’s what the Victorian proposal is about,” Mr Morrison said.
“It's not replacing what is happening with hotel quarantine in Victoria. We still couldn’t get straight answers on whether this proposal in Toowoomba was about replacing hotel quarantine or supplementing hotel quarantine. So there was just not enough detail to assess this.”
Mr Morrison said the Howard Springs facility that accommodates quarantining travellers outside of Darwin was able to function because charter flights could arrive at a nearby airport, which Ms Palaszczuk has continually suggested could occur at the Wellcamp Airport near Toowoomba if approved by the federal government.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has expressed frustration for months over the federal government’s refusal to commit to regional quarantine. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan PeledSource:News Corp Australia
Last week, the Queensland Premier once again slammed the Morrison government over the disagreement, declaring the “most glaring omission” in the federal budget was the refusal to commit to a regional quarantine plan.
“In this ongoing age of COVID, there are two things Australia needs: safety and certainty,” Ms Palaszczuk told state parliament on Wednesday.
“Regional quarantine is our last best hope for both.
“Returning stranded Australians from overseas, plugging the gaps in the labour market, the return of foreign students, the return of international travel – all these problems are solved with regional quarantine.”
The Premier said the Morrison government was constitutionally responsible for quarantine, but it was being “shouldered by the states”.
“Our hotels were never designed for long-term quarantine,” she said.
“The budget revealed international borders will not open for another year.
“That’s another Christmas before families see each other again. Regional quarantine reunites families sooner.”
NCA NewsWire has contacted the Premier’s office to respond to claims made by the Prime Minister on Monday.
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