Premier: Time for PM to step up on quarantine
Today marks one year since Queensland was the first state in Australia to declare a public health emergency.
As Premier, I can't tell you how proud I am of the way Queenslanders have collectively responded to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Our strong health response has meant the Sunshine State has had the strongest population growth in the nation, the largest rise in jobs in December at 36,600, and the strongest growth in housing finance commitments of any state.
Queensland is the place to be.
As we look ahead to 2021, the only predictable thing about COVID-19 is its unpredictability, as shown by the highly infectious UK strain which has now reached Australian shores.
Estimated to be 70 per cent more infectious than the original COVID-19, this UK strain continues to decimate many European economies and communities (a reality not lost on so many of us with loved ones overseas).
Just as we weren't willing to take chances when we declared a public health emergency 12 months ago, we are not willing to take chances when it comes to keeping new and more infectious strains out of Queensland.
That's why I am publicly calling on the Prime Minister to take greater responsibility for international quarantine.
As we contend with the new unknowns of COVID-19, a national quarantine plan would mean proper Commonwealth funding, as well as adequate defence force and Border Force resourcing.
There's no doubt the state-run hotel quarantine program currently in place is first-class, having served Queensland well over the past 10 months.
But now is the time for the Commonwealth to step up to the plate.
All ideas must be on the table as we contend with these new highly infectious strains.
That's what I did earlier this month when I put the proposal of centralised quarantining for returning international travellers on the table.
Consolidating quarantining into fewer sites that are more centralised will help reduce the ever-increasing risk of transmission and deserves to be considered.
With potentially another unpredictable year ahead of us, now is the time for the Prime Minister to step up to his responsibilities and put in place a well-funded, adequately resourced, nationally consistent international quarantine plan.
Annastacia Palaszczuk is Queensland Premier and Trade Minister
Originally published as Premier: Time for PM to step up on quarantine