The WA Government is willing to take on more Australians travelling home from overseas if they can be quarantined in Commonwealth facilities, Premier Mark McGowan said today.
- Mr McGowan says the cap on international arrivals to WA could be lifted
- He says returning travellers could be housed at Commonwealth facilities
- The state currently takes the second-highest number of arrivals nationally, Mr McGowan says
There has been a cap in place since July on the number of international arrivals allowed into the state each week of 525 to slow the burden on the state’s hotel quarantine system.
But Mr McGowan said if the Commonwealth was willing to open some of its facilities to allow them to quarantine, he would be willing to see the cap increased.
“Basically, we’re taking virtually our entire share,” Mr McGowan said.
“But if we want to increase it, the way to do it is open up more facilities, particularly Commonwealth facilities, and we’re more than happy to work with the Commonwealth to do that.”
Detention centres could be used for returning Australians, McGowan says
Mr McGowan flagged a number of facilities in WA.
“There is Christmas Island, there is Yongah Hill [immigration detention centre]. There are the defence bases with numerous accommodation facilities both in Western Australia and all over the country,” he said.
“They could literally take thousands of people into those if they wanted to, and I think that would be a good back-up to what the state is doing.”
It comes after Federal Labor called for what it estimates to be 25,000 Australians stranded overseas due to COVID-19 border closures to be brought home.
Mr McGowan said WA took the second-largest amount of Australians arriving from overseas after New South Wales, and there were nearly 2,000 people currently in the hotel quarantine system.
“We saw in Victoria, when you overload your hotels you can have very, very, very adverse consequences,” Mr McGowan said.
“We have a problem, let’s work together to fix it.”