WA to agree to new quarantine facility | Western Magazine

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has pledged to work constructively with the federal government to establish a purpose-built COVID-19 quarantine facility in Perth as quickly as possible.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has written to Mr McGowan proposing two parcels of land owned by the Department of Infrastructure as potential sites, one at Jandakot Airport in southern Perth and one at the Perth Airport.

Mr McGowan said while his government had suggested the use of existing facilities, such as Christmas Island, it was happy with the proposed locations.

“We just want to crack on and get this done as soon as we can,” he told reporters on Friday.

“Obviously there will be a few issues along that road but this is a good outcome and it’s something we have been calling for now for a long time.”

The premier said some work would need to be done to establish the best site before construction could start but he believed it could be operational by the end of the year.

“Firstly, we want to get on with it, and secondly, we want to make sure it has a use beyond this pandemic,” he said.

“Whether it is for disasters or whether it is for other purposes.

“It may actually have transportables as part of it so you can move accommodation around the state as we might need it.”

Mr McGowan said the use of existing facilities would have allowed for a quicker start, but that was something the federal government had rejected.

He was also firm that funding the construction would be a matter for the Commonwealth.

“It’s quarantine, have a look at the constitution, it is the Commonwealth’s responsibility, they will need to pay for it,” he said.

The premier’s commitments came after confirmation the Queensland government was considering another proposal for a dedicated facility near Brisbane Airport but also after South Australia ruled against the idea.

In Queensland, Mr Morrison is offering to pay for a 1000-bed facility on the site of the Damascus Barracks at Pinkenba.

The site is mainly used for storage, rather than being a traditional Australian Defence Force operating base.

It is close to the international airport and also near three major hospitals that are equipped to treat and isolate COVID-19 cases.

In SA, Premier Steven Marshall ruled out increasing the state’s intake of repatriated Australians, a requirement for attracting federal funds for a dedicated quarantine hub.

Mr Marshall said an increase in the current weekly cap of 530 arrivals was not something the state government was willing to consider.

“The feds are only interested in providing any support for beds if it is above the cap. We’ve made it crystal clear we’re not interested in doing that,” he said.

WA reported no new coronavirus cases on Friday and is monitoring just two active infections.

Australian Associated Press

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