House debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Quarantine

2:30 pm

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

BUTLER (—) (): My question is to the Prime Minister. In her national review of quarantine published this month, the Prime Minister's handpicked quarantine adviser, Jane Halton, told him:

Some quarantine settings, such as quarantine in a purpose-built facility, are better able to mitigate transmission risks, especially for high-risk travellers and in respect of variants of concern.

She said, further:

The Centre for National Resilience at Howard Springs was not purpose-built for quarantine …

Why has the Prime Minister failed to establish a single purpose-built quarantine facility?

2:31 pm

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

The member would be aware that that is a report that I in fact commissioned. That is a report I commissioned and that led, in the process to developing that report, to the decisions that were taken for the additional facilities that are being completed in Victoria, in Queensland and in Western Australia. Those facilities are important not just for what we may have to face next year for the more severe cases that may have to be taken—and we've discussed those with state governments—but for pandemics that may present in the future. That's why we have invested in those facilities. So I would only encourage those opposite, as Australians continue to push through this pandemic and as we continue to face these new variants of concern—and it is a variant of concern, but we've dealt with many before. What I know from, certainly, the Premier of New South Wales—and I appreciate the measures that they've taken in relation to this most recent variant—and I believe the view is also held by the Victorian Premier, is that we don't want to return to the arrangements that were put in place for those in quarantine facilities—that is, in hotels. They are moving now to home quarantine and isolation, and that is how we live with the virus and we live together with the virus.

Those opposite have been playing politics with this pandemic for 18 months. Australians know that our government has worked closely with others to ensure that we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. They know that, coming through this pandemic, we have one of the strongest economies of the advanced economies in the world and that we have one of the lowest rates of fatality from COVID of any country in the world. What part of those three results, that many other countries—in fact most around the world—would happily exchange places with Australia to have achieved, do they find so offensive? Why is it that this opposition, constantly, throughout this pandemic, has not sought to support but has only sought to undermine for their petty political purposes?