Council “not consulted” about COVID quarantine hub in Mickleham

A 500 bed quarantine facility is proposed. 207020_01

Michaela Meade

UPDATE: Hume council says it was not consulted about the construction of a 500-bed quarantine hub in Mickleham.

Mayor Joseph Haweil said: “Hume City Council has requested an urgent meeting with the Victorian Government about its proposal to establish a COVID quarantine facility in Mickleham.

“Council has not been consulted on the proposal prior to today’s announcement and seeks clarification about the ongoing management of the facility to ensure the health and safety of local residents.

“Our community is keen to know what impact a centre of this size and type will have to their health and safety and the amenity of the area.”

A 500-bed alternative quarantine hub for returning overseas travellers will be built in Mickleham, under a new state government proposal.

The state government today announced it had selected a site on Donnybrook Road for the hub.

The project is expected to cost $15 million, consist of 500 beds, and will be located next to the existing federal animal quarantine facility.

However, the project is dependent on federal government funding and a final decision whether to go ahead would not be made until September.

The government has previously said it was considering building a quarantine hub at Avalon or Melbourne airports.

Acting Premier James Merlino said the planned hub would address the issue that the coronavirus “will be with us for some time”.

“While we can’t control how well or how fast other countries deal with the pandemic or their vaccine roll-out, we can make sure our own quarantine system is as strong and safe as possible,” Mr Merlino said.

“The best time to start work on a standalone quarantine hub would have been 12 months ago – the second best time is now.”

The state government has provided a detailed summary of the business case for the project to the federal government.

The state government has requested the federal government to “take ultimate ownership” of the hub.

While construction costs and ownership conversations are underway, the state government “intends to get on with” the planning “to ensure the project doesn’t lose time”.

Acting Police and Emergency Services Minister Danny Pearson said: “We’ve seen how wildly unpredictable and dangerous this virus can be.

“This is our insurance policy to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep Victoria and Australia safe.

“We’ve done the work to stack this project up and now we’re asking the Commonwealth to get on board and help deliver it.”

The final decision will be made in September, pending support from the federal government and future insight into matters including the progress of Australia’s vaccine roll-out, the efficacy of vaccines in preventing transmission, and federal decisions on travel rules into and out of the country.

The hub’s design is informed by public health and infection control experts, and is based on the Howard Springs facility.

The state government said the design allows for the ability to increase to up to 3000 beds as part of a scalable build, if required.

Howard Springs has a cabin-style outdoor accommodation, and according to the state government has been widely acknowledged as the “safest and most functional design for quarantine in Australia”.