COVID-19: WA Premier wants Christmas Island, defence bases used for quarantine

Christmas Island and defence bases should be used to quarantine Australians returning home during the COVID-19 pandemic, WA Premier Mark McGowan says.

WA has more than 1900 people in hotel quarantine, with about 525 people arriving to the state on flights every week. Christmas Island is in the Indian Ocean, 1550 km north west from the closest point of mainland Australia.

“If the Commonwealth could organise some of their defence bases, some of their defence assets, Christmas Island – obviously we would want to work with them to get those facilities up and operational to take Australians returning home, so they could do their quarantine,” Mr McGowan told reporters on Tuesday.

“All over Australia there are these sorts of assets, defence assets, immigration assets … that are not fully occupied that the Commonwealth could use.

“I’m not saying this in an accusatory manner … I’m not saying it in a way of trying to blame the Commonwealth. I’m just saying we have a problem, let’s work together to fix it.”

Aerial view of detention centre, immigration camp on Christmas Island.Source:News Limited

People in hotel quarantine in Perth must pay for their accommodation, but Mr McGowan said it would be a matter for the Commonwealth whether they would charge returning travellers at their facilities.

“They could literally take thousands of people into those if they wanted to and I think that would be a good backup to what the state is doing,” he said.

“We saw in Victoria, when you overload your hotels you can have very, very, very adverse consequences.”

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