Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has pledged to work constructively with the federal government to establish a purpose-built COVID-19 quarantine facility in Perth as quickly as possible.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has written to Mr McGowan proposing two parcels of land owned by the Department of Infrastructure as potential sites, one at Jandakot Airport in southern Perth and one at the Perth Airport.
Mr McGowan said while his government had suggested using existing facilities, such as Christmas Island, it was happy with the proposed locations.
“We just want to crack on and get this done as soon as we can,” he said on Friday.
“Obviously there will be a few issues along that road but this is a good outcome and it’s something we have been calling for now for a long time.”
Mr Morrison has also written to the Queensland government, with a similar proposal for Damascus Barracks, near Brisbane Airport. The Palaszczuk government said it would consider the plan.
Also on Friday, the federal government confirmed it would push ahead with a Victorian government plan to build dedicated quarantine facilities at Mickleham. That hub is expected to be able to take its first returned travellers by the end of 2021.
Mr MacGowan said some work was needed to establish the best site for the WA quarantine before construction could start but he believed it could also be operational by the end of 2021.
“Firstly, we want to get on with it, and secondly, we want to make sure it has a use beyond this pandemic,” he said.
“Whether it is for disasters or whether it is for other purposes.
“It may actually have transportables as part of it so you can move accommodation around the state as we might need it.”
Mr McGowan said using existing facilities would have allowed for a quicker start, but the federal government had rejected that.
He was also firm that funding the construction would be a matter for the Commonwealth.
“It’s quarantine, have a look at the constitution, it is the Commonwealth’s responsibility, they will need to pay for it,” he said.