Queensland quarantine facility to close

·2-min read

Queensland's $200 million Wellcamp quarantine facility will be mothballed within days despite the state government leasing it until April next year.

The total capital and leasing costs for the complex near Toowoomba, which the Wagner Group now owns, will total $198.5 million, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.

Another $9 million has been spent on catering, cleaning and security services, provided by Compass Group, and $16 million for health services from Aspen Medical.

The state government also told the Commonwealth it has no use for a second quarantine facility being built at Pinkenba, near Brisbane Airport.

The 800-bed facility, costing between $350 and $400 million in federal funds, is yet to open.

The Wellcamp facility will stop accepting guests from Monday but remain available should the state's pandemic response change, Mr Miles said.

"There is no longer a public health requirement for dedicated, government-provided quarantine and isolation facilities," he told a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday.

"I understand this is consistent with the health advice provided in other jurisdictions."

The site will be considered for other uses during the lease period, which runs until April.

Some 730 guests have stayed at Wellcamp since it opened in February.

"It supported individuals with isolation accommodation in a range of circumstances, particularly those most vulnerable in the community," Mr Miles said.

"This includes guests who have tested positive to COVID-19 but do not have a suitable place to safely isolate such as homeless persons, refugees and victims of domestic violence."

He said it was easy to forget how uncertain the future was at the beginning of the pandemic and he was proud of the government's response.

"Most people understand, faced with what we were faced with, that we couldn't have made any other choice," the deputy premier said.

The cost of Wellcamp equates to about $325,000 per person who used the facility, the state opposition said.

"The state government could've bought a one-bedroom unit for each guest," Liberal National leader David Crisafulli said.

"This was a trigger-happy decision to try and wedge the former federal government and this waste could've funded nearly 2500 nurses in the middle of a health crisis."

Until Wednesday, the government had consistently declined to outline the full cost of Wellcamp, citing commercial in-confidence arrangements.

On Tuesday, acting auditor-general Karen Johnson said the project was being investigated following an opposition request in April.

She said the probe was looking at the procurement and tender process, and why the government was deeming the deal as "commercial in-confidence".

"Commercial in-confidence is generally very important in the negotiation stage, not so much after the contract has been settled," Ms Johnson told an estimates hearing.

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