Australia’s hotel quarantine won’t be run by the federal government, with the prime minister again rejecting the idea in the wake of renewed concerns about coronavirus spreading out of the system.
“We’re not going to be running it,” Scott Morrison told 3AW radio on Friday.
“Hotel quarantine is never 100 per cent fail safe. To suggest it ever will be is just not realistic.”
International arrivals have to complete 14 days in hotel quarantine in order to protect the community from coronavirus, with breaches of the system Australia’s greatest risk of the disease spreading.
An outbreak linked to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport has grown to 13 cases, with the city bracing for another potential lockdown.
Hotel quarantine workers have also caught the virus in Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney, sparking brief lockdowns in those cities.
Mr Morrison said the states were sharing information about their quarantine systems to help it improve.
“That doesn’t mean it can’t fail, of course it can fail, any system can fail.”
Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles insists a Labor government would take the reins of the hotel quarantine system.
“Quarantine is right front and centre of what the federal government is about,” he told Nine.
Western Australia and Queensland are pushing for regional quarantine hubs while Victoria wants the federal government to look at building new facilities.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk has proposed moving quarantine from city hotels to accommodation near Gladstone in the central part of the state.
But Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton – who is responsible for the nation’s international borders – says it would take up to 18 months for a facility to be built.
“We’ve got hotels that are sitting empty around the country, that have catering, that have security, that have ensuite arrangements, it suits the requirements of the health authorities,” he told Nine’s Today show.
About 220,000 people have gone through Australia’s hotel quarantine system.
Mr Morrison said federal and Victorian health authorities were working together, with an announcement expected from the state government on Friday afternoon on a potential lockdown.
The prime minister said a “short, sharp” lockdown would be effective, similar to what Brisbane and Perth did to stop the virus spreading.
“A precautionary, targeted, proportionate response is sensible,” he said.
Meanwhile, Australians’ confidence in the federal government has almost doubled on the back of the pandemic with trust soaring from dismal levels a year ago.
An Australian National University survey of almost 3500 people found confidence in the government jumped to 54.3 per cent in January.
The same time last year it was 27.3 per cent as Black Summer bushfires burned across Australia.
But the government still lags behind state and territory counterparts, which have the confidence of more than 70 per cent of respondents.
Police and the public service also outrank the federal government.