I write in response to your Editor’s Edition (14/5) on the Queensland Premier’s plan to put a quarantine facility at Wellcamp, outside Toowoomba.
As you suggest, quarantine is a federal responsibility under the constitution. Early last year it was agreed by the PM and the Premiers that the states would take on this responsibility as they also held responsibility for health.
To keep these two portfolios separate was deemed to be an unacceptable way of addressing the COVID pandemic. There has been no argument made since that they should now be separated whilst the pandemic continues to sweep across the world.
This departure from the constitutional breakdown of responsibility was done to keep Australians safe and it has worked remarkably well. Hotel quarantine in Australia has been 99.99% effective at preventing outbreaks.
There is no suggestion that the remaining 0.01% would be prevented at the Wellcamp facility as it would still be sending patients to the same hospital facilities in Brisbane that experienced outbreaks earlier this year.
This is a solution without a problem.
Further it remains a concern that the Premier would continue to push a proposal that is against the advice of the nation’s Chief Medical Advisor who has confirmed hotel quarantine as the safest method.
We cannot allow this to become an issue of the Premier’s opinion being weighed against medical advice. That would be a slippery slope towards complete politicisation of our COVID response.
I would point out that the Premier, now nearly four months after surprising Toowoomba with her quarantine facility idea, has yet to undertake any community consultation. Our hospitals, police and emergency services remain in the dark as to how they would be affected.
Likewise, my questions to the Premier for basic details on how the facility would be run and the impact on our local services remain unanswered.
If there is a load for Toowoomba to carry in Queensland’s COVID response, we stand ready to do our part. But the Premier’s refusal to engage with the people of Toowoomba demonstrates that this was never a serious proposal.
Garth Hamilton MP
Member for Groom