Quarantine camp proposal to be considered

Matt Coughlan
·2-min read

The Morrison government will weigh up any troop requests linked to Queensland's plan to shift quarantine from Brisbane hotels to remote mining camps.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will next week ask national cabinet to consider changing isolation arrangements for overseas arrivals.

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the government would consider whether Australian Defence Force members would be needed if the hotel regime changed.

"We'll look at that, and any requests that come in, as we have done all the way through," he told reporters in Hobart on Friday.

Mr McCormack said the cap on international arrivals had been reduced in response to the UK strain of the virus but claimed state governments were responsible for quarantine.

Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten argues quarantine is a federal power and questioned why the government had not been more active in the area.

"Annastacia Palaszczuk just wants to make sure that if any infection jumps from people coming from overseas to staff that it then doesn't expand in a massive city," he told the Nine Network.

"I have been perplexed that we haven't used more Commonwealth facilities in the last eight months, so I can understand why she is doing it."

A highly contagious strain of coronavirus found in the UK has been detected in six people in Queensland, sparking the government's remote-camp proposal.

NSW and WA are opposed to Queensland's plan with both state governments citing logistical hurdles.

The new virus strain could also block Victoria from returning international students to the state.

Deputy Premier James Merlino confirmed his state is looking at the issue closely.

"Everyone would like to see it happen as quickly as possible and aligned with the timelines of our universities and our schools," he told reporters in Melbourne.

But he acknowledged the new strain of the virus may put the brakes on students returning.

"It is one of our most significant service exports in our states, creates tens of thousands of jobs and opportunities," Mr Merlino said.

"We want it to increase as soon as we can but again that will be when it's safe to do so."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the federal government had made it clear Australians stranded overseas were the priority over international students.

"They're issues we do need to consider over the course of the year but obviously there's been a pause on that because of the new strains of the virus," she told reporters in Sydney.

Australia's virus transmission rates remain close to zero, with NSW and Victoria recording no locally acquired cases on Friday.

There was one positive result outside hotel quarantine in Queensland, but authorities believe it is remnants of old virus showing up in a test.