Western Australia is considering turning an unused COVID isolation quarantine centre into accommodation for overseas workers.
The $200 million complex, which boasts 500 beds, was built by the former Morrison government at Bullsbrook in Perth’s north, is due to be handed over to the West Australian government next month.
It had been expected to house returned travellers who were subject to restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the removal of travel and vaccination edicts has left Premier Mark McGowan pondering what to do with the centre.
“This was a decision of the Morrison government to build this. It was on the basis that we may well need it,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“At this point in time, it’s not needed for quarantine purposes but it may be needed for some of those purposes in the future. So the state government has agreed to operate it for the course of one year.
“What we will do is look for a purpose.”
WA is in the midst of a major recruiting drive for overseas workers but has also grappled with a shortage of affordable housing.
Mr McGowan, who recently returned from a trip to Europe to promote the state, said the centre could provide short-term accommodation for skilled workers with the greatest need in healthcare, hospitality and construction.
“We all know one of the biggest problems we face is not enough people for the jobs that are out there,” he said.
‘One of the options’
“So attracting people, giving them somewhere to stay is one of the options we’re looking at.
“We’re currently going through a process to work out how that might happen and whether it’s actually feasible or not, considering the location of the centre.”
The Centre for National Resilience COVID-19 quarantine facility in the Northern Territory closed last month.
Victorian authorities are in talks with the Albanese government about using Melbourne’s purpose-built quarantine hub to house refugees fleeing war-torn Afghanistan and Ukraine.
Mr McGowan meanwhile confirmed WA would not mandate a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose after eligibility was expanded to people aged 30 and over.