Department engages with private sector on quarantine options

By Jackson Graham

November 12, 2021

Private sector companies have collaborated to establish Quarantine Services Australia. (AAP Image/Jeremy Piper)

Discussions between Home Affairs and the private sector about hotel quarantine services have resulted in the companies collaborating to create a not-for-profit run by a Liberal Party member offering private alternatives. 

Hotel quarantine has been run by states and territories throughout the pandemic. 

But Quarantine Services Australia released an industry update this week outlining it could operate quarantine facilities capable of processing up to 80,000 skilled labour immigrants as well as student visa holders in state government compliant facilities. 

The Department of Home Affairs told The Mandarin via a spokesperson that, with other partner agencies, it had engaged in discussions with a number of private-sector providers regarding resources that could be applied to quarantine solutions for critical skills, on a user-pays basis.

“These discussions resulted in several private sector companies collaborating to establish Quarantine Services Australia,” the spokesperson said. 

“The Australian Government plays no role in the administration or funding of QSA.” 

The spokesperson said private sector-led solutions had “always been acceptable” with approval from the chief health officers in state or territories.

“In addition to facilitating the return of Australians, a variety of fit for purpose quarantine solutions have been utilised to expand the places available to support economic recovery,” they said.

“An example of where this has been successful is the use of on-farm quarantine in Queensland, supported by the Queensland government, to provide critical seasonal workers to the agricultural sector without displacing returning Australians.”

While fully vaccinated Australians and their families can enter Australia without needing to quarantine in some states, border restrictions only allow a limited number of fully vaccinated foreign workers to enter and in some states, they are still required to isolate in hotel quarantine. 

The ABC reported this week that QSA’s proposal may have become less viable as travel restrictions ease, with its focus shifting towards shorter hotel stints that would involve testing foreign arrivals and verifying their vaccine statuses. 

Crikey reported last month that ASIC documents listed Scott Briggs, a former NSW Liberal Party deputy director, as QSA’s only company director.


Feds should handle COVID quarantine not only for the constitution – it’s good policy

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