Premier Mark McGowan backs Deputy Premier’s Exmouth quarantine plan, but Shire remains cautious

Phoebe PinMidwest Times
RAAF Base Learmonth.
Camera IconRAAF Base Learmonth. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

A proposal to construct purpose-built quarantine facilities in regional areas such as Exmouth has received mixed responses.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese last week said a Labor government would consider the RAAF Base Learmonth near Exmouth as a possible site for a purpose-built quarantine facility.

“Our plan makes clear that fixing the vaccination rollout and establishing dedicated quarantine facilities is critical to protect the livelihoods of all Australians,” he said. “Hotels are for tourists, not quarantine.”

When there are airports that can take large aircraft and they are in regional areas outside the CBD of Perth, they are worth considering.

Speaking in State Parliament last week, Premier Mark McGowan said the idea had some merit.

“Learmonth ... is a pretty isolated airport ... it has the capacity for security and all those sorts of things,” he said.

“It might be a good idea, and we will work with the Commonwealth — because quarantine is its responsibility — on these sorts of ideas to deal with the situation.

“When there are airports that can take large aircraft and they are in regional areas outside the CBD of Perth, they are worth considering.”

Mr McGowan said if a facility was built near Exmouth, it may be used for worker accommodation or other purposes after the pandemic.

“They have a shortage of worker accommodation across that region ... a facility there might be able to be used for those purposes.”

Shire of Exmouth acting chief executive Matt Bird said the Shire has “no detailed knowledge” about the possible use of the RAAF base as a quarantine facility, but would welcome the opportunity to discuss how the proposal could benefit WA and the local community.

Mr Bird recognised the Federal Government had the ability to declare an area a human health response zone, but said studies had suggested other locations outside of Exmouth as suitable locations for quarantine facilities.

“The Halton Reports recommends immigration detention facilities and the Northern Territory's Howard Springs facility as evacuation points of urgent scalability instead of the RAAF base close to Exmouth,” Mr Bird said.

Premier Mark McGowan meets with Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan meets with Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese Credit: Daniel Wilkins

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