House debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Quarantine

2:07 pm

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. The Minister for Home Affairs said today that Australia doesn't need purpose built quarantine because hotel quarantine has worked very effectively. Can the Prime Minister confirm that there have been almost 30 breaches of hotel quarantine which have led to closed state borders and statewide lockdowns?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you for the question. This has been the experience throughout the pandemic. They say they seek to support the response on one hand and then on the other hand, they have a bet each way on the pandemic response. That is what I and the government have become very used to. They support JobKeeper. They bag JobKeeper, even in this place. The program that saved hundreds of thousands of jobs—

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives) Share this | | Hansard source

On direct relevance: we didn't ask about the opposition's views; we asked about hotel quarantine.

The Prime Minister is entitled to a preamble. He is talking about hotel quarantine. He is on point, and the Prime Minister is entitled to a preamble in any event. I give the call to the Prime Minister.

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Mr Speaker. One of the most urgent actions taken in the course of our response to the pandemic as we looked into the abyss back in the early part of 2020 was to move quickly to ensure that we could put in place a system where those coming into Australia would quarantine. Together with the states and territories, who are meeting together with me again this afternoon, we put that scheme in place and supported them to do that. We followed that up with the establishment of the national resilience facility in the Northern Territory, which has a capacity of 2,000.

Opposition members interjecting

I note that those opposite make reference to the hotel quarantine system. I can tell you that in that system, while certainly not perfect, in the context of the hundreds of thousands of people who came through, on less than 10 occasions—not as the member put it in the question—there were breaches in that scheme that led to the outcomes that the member referred to. In the context of hundreds of thousands of Australians who were coming back over that period of time, I thank the states and territories who we worked with closely to put this into place.

Opposition members inte rjecting—

I thank them for the work they did. Those opposite may wish to condemn them, but then that would be the same thing they have done throughout this pandemic. They're happy to say they support so long as, on the other hand, they can undermine. That's why it hasn't been our experience that we've had the confidence to rely on those opposite. We have forged the way of this government on these benches and with other governments around the country because those opposite simply couldn't be relied upon.