Three days in, three strikes for Daniel Andrews’ hotel quarantine program

Today in Parliament, the Victorian Liberal Nationals have moved an amendment to the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Quarantine Fees) Bill 2020 to protect Victorians desperate to come home from further additional costs related to Labor’s hotel quarantine program, and to make sure those who can afford it cover the costs – not Victorian taxpayers.

Despite having months to get hotel quarantine right and the first international arrivals landing yesterday morning, the Andrews Labor Government has been left scrambling to introduce legislation giving it the legal authority to charge returned travellers for their hotel quarantine stay.

This rushed legislation leaves serious unanswered questions as to who will be eligible for a fee waiver, how fees will be invoiced and collected, and when regulations outlining these procedures will actually be introduced.

With less than 10 per cent of returned travellers in NSW having paid their quarantine fees since mid-July, the Victorian Liberal Nationals have moved an amendment to apply explicit minimum eligibility criteria for a quarantine fee waiver, including;

  • Applicant must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
  • Applicant must not have an income of more than $1,903 per week.
  • Applicant must not have more than $10,000 in cash or savings deposits.
  • Applicant must either have lost their employment, or suffered a 20 per cent reduction in working hours, salary or business turnover in the case of sole traders, in relation to COVID-19.

These measures mirror the Victorian State Government’s eligibility criteria for the current COVID-19 Rental Relief Grant and will help protect Victorian taxpayers from yet again picking up the bill from Labor’s hotel quarantine program.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Police and Community Safety, David Southwick:

“The Victorian Liberal Nationals’ amendment is about ensuring costs are fairly shared and protecting taxpayers who have already coughed up almost $200 million on Labor’s failed hotel quarantine program.

“Despite having months to get hotel quarantine right, it appears Daniel Andrews has failed to learn the lessons of other states and may yet again be leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for hotel quarantine.

“With Labor’s first hotel quarantine program resulting in 801 deaths and countless economic and social harms, Victorians simply cannot afford this to go wrong again.”

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