Either Perth Airport or Jandakot Airport, in the city’s southern suburbs, could be chosen as a location for a 1,000-bed purpose-built quarantine facility after the federal government ticked off on the sites.
Key points:

  • The PM has told WA he’s been advised land at the airports would be suitable
  • The proposal requires WA to agree and share costs with the Commonwealth
  • The Premier previously all but ruled out building new quarantine centres

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told WA Premier Mark McGowan he had received advice suggesting land at either of the airports would be suitable for a COVID-19 quarantine centre.
Mr Morrison has also written to the Queensland Premier, outlining a proposal for a quarantine facility near Brisbane airport.
Both states would need to agree to the proposals and costs would be shared between them and Commonwealth.
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In a letter to Mr McGowan, Mr Morrison said the sites were a suitable size and had access to an international airport taking regularly scheduled international commercial passenger flights, plus were in proximity to a principal hospital.
Mr Morrison said he was willing to consider a partnership on any proposals that meet the necessary criteria.
“The Commonwealth invites the Western Australian Government to participate in a joint formal assessment of these sites,” he wrote.
McGowan sceptical of new facility
Mr McGowan has previously all but ruled out building new COVID-19 quarantine centres to replace hotels, arguing the solution was “staring us in the face” in purpose-built Commonwealth facilities.
Premier Mark McGowan has said a purpose-built WA quarantine facility would take years to build.(ABC News: Greg Pollock
)
Speaking in April, he named RAAF Curtin Air Base and the Yongah Hill and Christmas Island immigration detention centres as possible solutions.
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The Premier said a purpose-built quarantine facility would take years to build, and he hoped that by then vaccinations would mean the pandemic was not the problem it was today.
“I don’t want to go down the course of commissioning and building a facility that might be worth hundreds of millions of dollars if we’re not going to need it,” he said at the time.
But Mr McGowan also suggested regional towns such as Exmouth or Busselton, next to an airport with the capability of taking international flights, could work as locations for quarantine facilities.
The Premier’s office has been contacted for comment.
Doctors back proposal
But the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has thrown its support behind the federal government’s suggested sites for a new facility.
“These COVID patients, when they deteriorate, they actually deteriorate quite quickly, and it’s very important that the facility is near tertiary referral healthcare. Both of these sites fulfil that,” AMA WA president Mark Duncan-Smith said.
“Perth Airport is obviously close to Royal Perth [Hospital] and Jandakot Airport is close to Fiona Stanley Hospital.”
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He said the AMA had been calling for a purpose-built quarantine facility for months, saying it was needed six months ago.
Dr Duncan-Smith said Perth Airport made more sense to him because of its better-suited flight capability.
Hub confirmed for Victoria
The WA proposal came as the federal government confirmed it had decided to build a 1,000-bed quarantine facility on Commonwealth land at Mickleham, in northern Melbourne.
Mr Morrison has written to Victoria’s Acting Premier, James Merlino, to advise him of the plan.
The Victorian government proposed the Mickleham facility and budgeted $15 million to design it.(Supplied
)
Mr Morrison said the facility would open when its first 500 beds were ready.
“A facility with a 1,000-bed capacity will increase the number of Australians that can return to Australia and provide options to assist in our economic recovery by enabling arrivals of international students, skilled migrants and other economic intakes into the medium term,” he wrote.
He hoped the facility would be built by the end of the year.
“I have asked my officials to prioritise this project and I want to see that all efforts are made to deliver the first stages of the facility by the end of 2021,” he said.
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