MPs take aim at government’s communication on quarantine hub
Toowoomba MPs have lashed out at the State Government, using parliament to relay theirs and the community’s concerns about a proposed quarantine facility at the Wellcamp Airport.
Hitting back at Premier Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s claim that she had been communicating well with the people of Queensland, Toowoomba North MP Trevor Watts said there was “a great deal of stress and nervousness being experienced by businesses, among individuals, and in retirement homes” because of the Wellcamp proposal.
Mr Watts said the impact of the proposal was already being felt.
“Motels are receiving cancellations because people are concerned. People who have to drop their kids off at boarding school … are deciding that they will not stay in Toowoomba to do their regular shopping and catch up with friends,” he said.
“Those concerns need to be taken seriously because they are having a real impact.
“People need reassurance.”
Mr Watts ran through a list of questions, ranging from what would happen if Toowoomba, which he said has a GDP of $25 million per week, was shut down, and “what compensation exists for all of the people there?” to the concerns of the Toowoomba medical fraternity – both public and private.
“If an ambulance is used, will it be one from Toowoomba? Will that ambulance be taken out of circulation while it is cleaned? Will its paramedics have to self-isolate afterwards?” Mr Watts asked.
“These are the questions being asked in my community and not answered by the Premier.”
Other questions revolved around how quickly a positive case would be picked up, or whether sewage from the facility would be tested, or if there was a fire, how would that be managed, or if there was civil unrest in the facility, who would deal with that?
“These are genuine questions that people have which are causing anxiety and concern in my community.”
On Thursday, Condamine MP Pat Weir also spoke on the issue, which he said was causing “a great deal of concern and division in the greater Toowoomba region”.
Mr Weir said the Wagner family had outlined how the logistics of quarantining returned travellers would operate.
“May I say at this point that is far more information than I have received from the Premier’s office or from any representative from the State Government, despite being the local state member,” he said.
Noting that Toowoomba acted as a service hub for the surrounding regional areas, he said the proposed facility had the potential to impact on a much larger area than just the Toowoomba Regional Council.
“The Government needs to come clean with the people in the Toowoomba Region and provide some certainty.”
Last week, a spokesman for the Premier said the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet have been working productively with the Department of Premier and Cabinet to progress the plan for a national quarantine centre – a “joint project”.
“Detailed information is being worked through and developed in joint partnership with the Commonwealth Government,” the spokesman said.
“A regional quarantine facility in Queensland will only work if it is a genuine partnership, where the detailed assessment is jointly developed.
“In the absence of a consistent national quarantine plan led by the Commonwealth, the Premier put forward a practical, common sense proposal to help facilitate the return of Australians.
“The ball is in the Federal Government’s court.
“There are ongoing discussions between the Commonwealth and state agencies.”
Originally published as MPs take aim at government’s communication on quarantine hub