Premier kept in dark as quarantine role ramped up
Confusion over how to get thousands of Aussies stranded overseas back home increased yesterday as the Morrison Government announced Queensland "will" double its intake - without telling Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk first.
There are about 26,000 Australians seeking to return home, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, many who have been bumped off flights or forced to buy business class tickets due to limited seats available.
There have been behind-the-scenes discussions about increasing the cap, but no numbers had been agreed to.
Queensland is currently taking 500 arrivals a week under secure hotel quarantine arrangements.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced on Wednesday he had written to the to the premiers and chief ministers to tell them the Federal Government wanted to increase the national cap from 4000 arrivals a week to 6000 people and ask what capacity they had.
"We're going to increase the numbers of Australians coming into Sydney by 500 per week, 500 more will be coming in to Queensland. Likewise WA is increasing its capacity by 500. SA about 360.
"The states will comply."
He said he wanted the numbers boosted by these levels by the end of the month, or sooner, to get Australians home faster.
But, it can be confirmed Ms Palaszczuk was not told about the proposed increase amount before the announcement.
There had been discussions expected to take place later this week to discuss its hotel quarantine capacity, and it was to be discussed at National Cabinet.
Ms Palaszczuk said yesterday she would be willing to consider lifting the state's hotel quarantine capacity.
"We will do whatever we can, but the federal government has resources as well," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"Every time we put a new hotel up, there's extra police that are needed to look at those hotels as well."
Doubling Queensland's hotel quarantine intake would take it back to similar levels to what it was taking before the Melbourne COVID-19 outbreak sprung from its hotel quarantine.
The Morrison Government is understood to be willing to consider Australian Defence Force assistance with hotel quarantine where requested.
The Federal Government has been under fire over the international returns as it is responsible for setting the cap, though it was done in consultation with the states based on quarantine capacity.
NSW doing the heavy lifting with 350 people arriving a day, while Perth has been taking 550 arrivals a week and SA about 180 a week.
Originally published as Premier kept in dark as quarantine role ramped up