Wait for Victorian quarantine facility drags on
THERE is still no definitive answer about whether Victoria’s new quarantine facility will be built at Avalon Airport or at Mickleham, nor is there any timeline about when it might happen.
Avalon Airport has been a contender to house a purpose-built COVID-19 quarantine facility since at least mid-February, when Premier Daniel Andrews described Avalon and Melbourne Airport as “the two obvious candidates”.
In late April, Avalon’s proposal was relegated to second place by the state Labor Government, which announced its preference was to build an initial 500-bed hub in Mickleham, and it was ready to start planning the works if the federal Coalition Government agreed.
Last month, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the state and federal governments had not yet agreed where the facility should go, as the Coalition’s preference was to put the site at Avalon.
The latest lockdown has sparked more calls for a dedicated quarantine facility instead of people being housed in hotels, including from the Victorian Chamber of Commerce.
Last week, the chamber proposed a four-point plan “to protect our state from further COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns and restrictions”, including “action and immediate work on a fit-for-purpose national quarantine facility at Avalon or Mickleham to stop COVID-19 escaping into our community from overseas”.
Although a location is not yet fixed, state Labor last week invited expressions of interest from firms to tender for the design and construction of an alternative quarantine accommodation hub in Victoria.
According to the tender issued by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the accommodation hub will be modular in nature.
“The Victorian and Commonwealth Governments are in discussions regarding the project and the project remains subject to approvals of both governments,” the tender states.
Avalon Airport chief executive officer Justin Giddings had not responded to a request for comment at time of publication.