Thursday, 2 September 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said, 'Ultimately, everything is a state matter.' Is it the states who are responsible for quarantine or is it the Prime Minister? How many quarantine leaks from hotels, built for tourists, have there been?
I thank the member for his question. Since 28 March 2020, when mandatory quarantine commenced—when public health orders were put in place by the states to support the decision of the Commonwealth government to close the borders—over 434,000 people have arrived and we have detected and isolated over 4,200 COVID-19 cases. In about half a dozen cases there were breaches of those quarantines which led to breakouts in the community.
What is extraordinary as a result of that program put in place, with the great support of the premiers and chief ministers in the states and territories, has been a system that has played a central role in saving over 30,000 lives. This has been one of the key differences between Australia and the rest of the world. Other countries have engaged in hotel quarantine. New Zealand, significantly, has had success and continues to run that program—as do Taiwan and other places. That's been a program that's been so essential to saving so many lives in this country.
And now the quarantine challenge moves to a new place. As we move into phase b and phase c of the plan, when Australians who have been vaccinated will travel—and more Australians will come home, and we want the restraints on Australians coming home lifted—the answer is home quarantine. The home quarantine trial that we initiated, through the national plan, with the South Australian government is going to see more Australians come home and more Australians resume their connection with people all around the world. We will see families reunited, particularly those in our multicultural communities across this country who have carried the hardest and heaviest burden of that international ban. They will be reunited. They will be able to reconnect. The home quarantine model is absolutely vital to the success of the national plan. Again, I want to thank Premier Marshall for being the one who put his hand up and said, 'We will give that a go.' He knew how important it was to the people in his state and to the entire country.
I remind the House that it's been Australia's great fortune to have been able to come through this pandemic and to have been able to isolate those 4,200 cases in hotel quarantine. If any one of them—or all of them, as we saw in other countries—had been able to go through this country, we would have experienced the same death rate as the United Kingdom, France, Spain and many other places. (Time expired)