Victoria will get dedicated quarantine site
THE state and federal governments have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a quarantine facility in Victoria, but the question of whether it will be at Avalon Airport or Mickleham remains unresolved.
The idea of a purpose-built COVID-19 quarantine site for Victoria has been floated for months.
Avalon, in northern Geelong, has been a leading contender since at least mid-February, when Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews described Avalon and Melbourne Airport as “the two obvious candidates”.
In late April, Avalon Airport was relegated to second place by the state government, which announced its preference was to build an initial 500-bed hub in Mickleham in northern Melbourne and it was ready to start planning the works if the federal government agreed.
However, the federal government did not immediately do so, and reportedly prefers Avalon as the location.
On Friday last week, the state and federal governments confirmed they had reached an in-principle agreement to construct and operate a quarantine facility in Victoria.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal government would meet the capital costs of the site, while the Victorian government would cover the operational costs.
“This will both assist them and the risk management of the various groups that they are providing for in the quarantine system, as well as delivering additional capacity for the quarantine system in Victoria, and that is a very welcome process that we have been through with the Victorian Government. A very, very good proposal,” Mr Morrison said.
Victorian Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson said building the quarantine facility at Avalon would not only allow returning travellers to fly directly into an airport and travel a short way to their accommodation, but would also be a huge boost for jobs and the local economy.
“While the details of this agreement are to be finalised over the coming weeks including as to the location, I am very hopeful that Avalon Airport will be selected,” Ms Henderson said.
Acting Premier James Merlino welcomed the signing of the MOU and said his government would accept the facility being built at Avalon.
“Our preference is Mickleham, we are very happy to have it at the Avalon site as well, it will work equally well there,” he said.
“Now we have a definitive green light from the Commonwealth … we’ll engage with them in terms of is there any levers we can pull in terms of Commonwealth planning processes to fast-track this.”