Work starts on Perth quarantine facility

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Construction of a dedicated quarantine facility near Perth would give Australia the capacity to cope with "whatever emergencies are thrown at us into the future", Finance Minister Simon Birmingham says.

Marking the start of construction at the Bullsbrook site, Senator Birmingham said such centres were about dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other issues which may arise, including humanitarian crises.

"This year we've been hit with the Delta variant which nobody saw coming and which changed the dynamic in relation to COVID-19," he told reporters on Thursday.

"There may be other challenges in the months or years to come.

"That's why these sort of facilities can help as we reopen international borders, help us confront questions around non-Australian arrivals, questions around those who may not have homes to quarantine in and questions around those who may not be vaccinated but need entry into Australia."

Senator Birmingham said the centre could also play a role if Australia was faced with another situation like that involving the recent evacuations from Afghanistan.

He said planning had progressed swiftly, with the 1000-bed facility the equivalent of building several new international hotels.

"But we're doing this not over the space of a couple of years, we're doing this in a much compressed timeframe," he said.

The Perth centre is one of three being built across Australia with others in Brisbane and Melbourne.

The first 500 beds at Bullsbrook are expected to be available in the first quarter of 2022.

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