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Changes in pandemic policy bring Canberra to the table

There is some trump card about the Victorian government unilaterally announcing a plan to build a $ 700 million quarantine facility on someone else’s land with someone else’s money.

As with some of the darker political arts employed by the former president of the United States, there is also a certain genius.

Andrews’ government remains serious about establishing a specially constructed quarantine facility so that returning travelers at risk of carrying COVID-19 are no longer staying exclusively in hotels in the city. It is also serious that the Commonwealth finances the new arrangements, at least in part.

Behind the government’s announcement this week of its preferred location for the facility – and its boldness in handing over the project’s provisional bill to the federal government – is an obstinate calculation of pandemic policy.

Simply put, the state government believes that the feds are too weakened by their unsuccessful vaccination program to reject this proposal. From the evidence so far, you can be sure.

Although the proposal was dismissed as a fraud by state opposition leader Michael O’Brien, and political smoke by federal minister Peter Dutton, no such criticism was made by the Liberal troika in charge of responding to Australia’s pandemic: Prime Minister Scott Morrison , Health Minister Greg Hunt and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

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Instead, both the PM and Mr. Hunt said that the Victorian proposal would be considered.

This is already happening.

The alternative quarantine model was not on the agenda for Friday’s national cabinet meeting, but, while this meeting was taking place, it was discussed at length by teams of senior bureaucrats and political advisers in the Premier Department and Victoria’s Office and the Department of Victoria. Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The PM team acknowledges that considerable work has been done for the Victorian proposal.

The proposed site for a new COVID-19 quarantine centre is 40 hectares of vacant, Commonwealth-owned land on Melbourne’s northern edge.
Source: Theguardian

The preferred location in Mickleham – 40 acres of Commonwealth wasteland adjacent to an animal quarantine site used by the Department of Agriculture on the north shore of Melbourne – was chosen according to the criteria set by the federal government review of hotel quarantine conducted by former health secretary Jane Halton.

Canberra also acknowledges that, according to the proposal, Victoria would keep her quarantine hotels open and, until the end of the pandemic, accept the responsibility of providing staff and managing the new facilities. If the other pre-selected location at Avalon Airport is preferred by Canberra, these arrangements will be practically the same.

As early as next week, the Victorian government will begin to inform crossbench lawmakers about the specific pandemic legislation it has drafted so that returning travelers can be legally required to be quarantined without a state of emergency being declared.

Unlike Western Australia, which this week declared its intention to close three quarantine hotels and halve the number of returnees, Victoria is not abandoning the federal government’s preferred quarantine method.

Is convinced, however, based in large part on what leading infectious disease expert Allen Cheng is saying about emerging variants of COVID-19, that hotel quarantine is no longer sufficient in itself to serve the double purpose of preventing outbreaks in Australia and bringing people from abroad home.

Victoria believes that, due to the way the pandemic is occurring and our vaccine program is being implemented, the quarantine of COVID-19 will be required in some way by 2024. She wants to collapse by September in construction. He expects Canberra to cough.

Its demand that the federal government bear all construction costs can be correctly seen as a claim of scope. For the project to proceed, the state and the Commonwealth will, at some point, need to have a sensible conversation about how to share the costs.

It also carries a clear political message. When it comes to the quarantine of COVID-19, the federal government can no longer pass the ball.

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