Member for Morwell Russell Northe has expressed his concern regarding the processes undertaken by the Andrews Labor Government in relation to its rushing through hotel quarantine legislation in Parliament this week.
“On Friday of last week, the Government indicated they wished to put forward a Bill to be debated this sitting week in State Parliament. Yesterday, this legislation was introduced, debated and passed in the
Legislative Assembly as well as the Legislative Council, for the purposes to implement fee’s for quarantine stays for overseas arrivals in Victoria”, Mr Northe began.
The Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Quarantine Fees Bill) 2020 was introduced by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services on Tuesday and was subsequently voted through the Legislative Assembly thanks to a Government majority. It was also debated in the Legislative Council in a bid to rush through the legal standing for charging returning travellers fees for their mandatory quarantine. This is despite travellers having already begun arriving and currently quarantining in Victorian hotels.
“Whilst I can see the necessity for these persons in certain circumstances to pay for their quarantine period, I am concerned that we are rushing through pieces of law without facing the proper scrutiny in Parliament. Despite knowing for months that the application of quarantine fees would be required following National Taskforce directives and agreement months ago, the Victorian Government have actually waited until overseas arrivals are not just our doorstep – but have already arrived in our State, before seeking the appropriate legal standing”, Mr Northe continued.
Quarantine fee rates have been proposed at a cost of $3,000 per adult, $1,000 each additional adult, and $500 for children over three years old. This fee covers their entire stay including three daily meals plus snacks.
“All year, I have been encouraging the State Government to adopt a more transparent approach to COVID-19 measures, including greater Parliamentary scrutiny, yet here we are with further rushed legislation without proper community consultation or debate”, Mr Northe continued.
“Unfortunately, many Australians are still stuck overseas, and I feel horribly for those persons and their families. It is an awful situation and in that context, one hopes the Federal Government is doing all they can to assist in this regard”, Mr Northe said.
“I like many people can’t understand why it appears that all returning travellers are seemingly not tested or quarantined before entering our country. It almost seems there is little or no COVID testing or oversight of those intending to travel to Australia and that total faith has been placed in getting the hotel quarantine program right, which of course failed the first time around”, Mr Northe said.
“To potentially allow persons with COVID-19 arrive in Australia, surely only elevates the risk, and maybe if there was a better system in place before people arrived, then possibly more people could come back home earlier, and maybe we would be less concerned about the security and capacities of our hotel quarantine system”, Mr Northe concluded.