Ann Leahy.
Ann Leahy.

Warrego MP hits back at remote quarantine proposal

Warrego MP Ann Leahy made it clear that southwest Queensland did not have the capacity to host returned international travellers in the region’s gas worker camps as part of the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s spruiked plan to move COVID quarantine efforts outside of Brisbane CBD.

Ms Palaszczuk originally floated the idea after a COVID-positive hotel worker escaped into the densely populated Brisbane CBD after doing a casual shift at the Hotel Grand Chancellor on January 2.

But the Liberal National member for Warrego was not keen on keeping quarantining travellers in neither regional Queensland nor the Brisbane CBD, and was instead calling on the State Government to set up a temporary facility near the Brisbane Airport.

And with her electorate covering much of the Surat Basin energy region, including Dalby and Roma, there were plenty of facilities in her region that could be selected if the proposal went ahead.

“I don’t think it’s right that we should be quarantining in our inner city hotels,” Ms Leahy said.

But she doesn’t believe it will be appropriate to move quarantines to regional camps either because of the lack of intensive care units, lack of consultation with regional communities, and the risk that transporting them from Brisbane will cause.

She’s also concerned that staff won’t be willing to come to the regions to make up for shortages of hospitality workers to be able to provide food.

“This is clearly a thought bubble with no detail, [the Premier] hasn’t consulted the community,” Ms Leahy said.

“It’s just a throwaway line to get the media’s attention back on her.

“To impose quarantine on a regional community without consulting them first, that’s just crazy stuff.”

The state government is using the Howard Springs facility, south of Darwin, as an example of a success story but Ms Leahy points out that it is only about 20km south of the international airport and doesn’t require as much transport.

“If they’re unwell, you’ll have to transfer them to Toowoomba and Brisbane too, at a time where they’re potentially infectious as well,” she said.

Ms Leahy believes it will be easy to set up a temporary facility at the Brisbane Airport given that a refuge camp was set up at Roma’s Bassett Park during the 2011 floods.

Maranoa Regional Council told News Corp that they haven’t approached, or been approached by the State Government regarding using their local government area as a quarantine site.

Western Downs Regional Council was contacted for comment but did not respond by deadline.

The Murweh Shire Council won’t be able to support the initiative as there is no resource sector facilities in the shire and facilities are extremely limited.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that he is open to the Queensland Government’s push to quarantine arrivals at remote camps during a visit to Quilpie on January 19.

The State Government told News Corp that they are ‘considering all options’ in regards to COVID quarantines and will discuss with the national cabinet.

This meeting is expected on January 22.

Originally published as Warrego MP hits back at remote quarantine proposal

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