Queensland’s opposition has slammed the Premier’s plan to shift quarantine responsibilities to mining camps, accusing Annastacia Palaszczuk of wanting to dump the continued coronavirus threat on regional communities.
Ms Palaszczuk said on Thursday morning she would ask national cabinet to consider housing returned travellers and quarantine staff at mining camps to protect the Sunshine State’s cities following the outbreak of the highly contagious UK strain at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane.
But David Crisafulli said the plan didn’t solve the failure to contain the deadly virus.
“Something is wrong with our quarantine process. The virus got out. They don’t know how,” the Opposition Leader told NCA NewsWire.
“And today, their solution is to pick up the problem and dump it somewhere in regional Queensland.
“They’re not solving the problem, they’re moving it.”
Mr Crisafulli said the system needed to be “watertight”.
“It doesn’t matter if people are being held in a hotel room in Brisbane or a mining camp in Moranbah, it’s the same problem,” he said.
“Right now it isn’t working, and that worries me.”
Queensland health authorities are scrambling to trace the source of the outbreak as police sift through security footage from the Brisbane hotel, with the investigation so far failing to reveal how a hotel worker became infected and exposed hundreds of people in the community to the deadly strain.
“Queenslanders deserve to know what went wrong so we can be assured this doesn’t happen again,” Mr Crisafulli said.
“That’s especially true for regional Queenslanders given this problem could now be coming to their backyard.”
Ms Palaszczuk told reporters on Thursday morning the pitch to set up quarantine sites at mining camps was aimed at reducing the threat at hotel quarantine facilities in Brisbane and Gold Coast CBDs.
“I think this is a rational option, and if we are dealing with a strain which is up to 70 per cent more infectious, I think we need to be really serious about it,” she said.
“I have asked (chief health officer) Dr Young and the health minister and the commissioner and her team to go and look at some options for the government to consider.”
Ms Palaszczuk said some of the camps were “four star” quality and would have fresh air for guests.
There would also be capacity for all the staff and cleaners to be based on site as well.