Stop the planes: Hotel quarantine is still not ready, say state Liberals

The state opposition wants the return of international travellers to Victoria delayed, claiming the Andrews Labor government has still not got its hotel quarantine arrangements right.

International flights are due to begin arriving again at Tullamarine Airport on Monday, after they were halted for five months, with passengers to undergo 14 days mandatory quarantine at hotels around Melbourne.

ADF personnel arriving at Tullamarine on Friday afternoon.Credit:Paul Jeffers

"We should have a user-pays system, but it just absolutely amazes me, when the government has had months to get this right, and yet at the very last minute, they work out that they don't have the laws to be charging travellers."

The shadow minister called on Premier Daniel Andrews to delay the resumption of international travel back into the state, adding that the risk of coronavirus escaping again from quarantine hotels and sparking a third wave of infections, was too great.

"If Daniel Andrews doesn't have it worked out, and doesn't have the systems in place and the people trained, quite frankly, Daniel Andrews should delay those planes coming in until hotel [quarantine] is appropriately signed off and ready to go," Mr Southwick said.

The Andrews government was forced into a last-minute revision of its request for Australian Defence Force assistance in its revamped hotel quarantine program after the ADF rejected their initial proposal.

Announcing the program earlier this week, Police Minister Lisa Neville and Mr Andrews said Victoria would request the support of a total of 220 ADF personnel on a rotation basis alongside 300 Victoria Police officers every day.

The key sticking point between the ADF and state government was that Victoria wanted troops to assist police in patrolling every floor of 'hot' hotels housing only coronavirus-positive patients, which the ADF was unwilling to do.

Instead, they will support police in hotel lobbies by helping residents enter and exit, as well as registering staff movements and temperature checking workers before their shift.

Police alone will play the lead security role in all hotels and monitor floors of 'hot' hotels – a role undertaken by private security guards in Victoria's first iteration of its hotel quarantine program.

The first 100 ADF troops arrived to begin training in Melbourne on Friday afternoon, including 75 on a KC-30 tanker aircraft from Townsville, with further support expected over the weekend and early next week.

"The remainder of the ADF contingent will arrive by Tuesday and will be inducted by police throughout the week," a state government spokeswoman said.

with Michael Fowler

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