AVALON Airport has been overlooked as the location for Victoria’s new dedicated quarantine hub, with the state government this morning announcing its preference for a site north of Melbourne.
Subject to agreement from the federal government, planning will start on the 500-bed hub in Donnybrook Road, Mickleham, with an expected cost of around $15 million to get the project ready for construction.
The state government has provided a detailed summary of the business case to the federal government about gaining access to the preferred site, which is on Commonwealth land and next to the Mickleham Post Entry Quarantine Facility, which is used for animal quarantine.
The decision comes as somewhat of a surprise, as Avalon and Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport were described by Premier Daniel Andrews in February as “the two obvious candidates” for a quarantine hub.
The state government says the business case considered and evaluated multiple sites against a set of selection criteria, including proximity to a public hospital, international airport, transport and other services, as well as land area and site-specific considerations.
“It’s clear this virus will be with us for some time,” Acting Premier James Merlino said.
“While we can’t control how well or how fast other countries deal with the pandemic or their vaccine rollout, we can make sure our own quarantine system is as strong and safe as possible.
“The best time to start work on a standalone quarantine hub would have been 12 months ago – the second-best time is now.”