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Qld quarantine proposal still a sore point

The federal government will help coronavirus-hit Victoria build a quarantine facility but Queensland’s proposal to do the same is still in limbo and a focus of political mudslinging.

The plan to construct a 1000-bed centre near Toowoomba is not rocket science, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told Queensland’s state Labor conference on Saturday.

“We are not proposing construction of an international space station,” she said.

“These are reasonably basic structures but they can provide the safety and the certainty our country needs.”

However AAP understands the site near Wellcamp airport doesn’t meet federal expectations because of its lack of proximity to an international airport and existing hotel quarantine venues.

The facility would be about 150km from Brisbane, and Canberra also considers it too far from a tertiary hospital.

Queensland needs the federal government’s support for its quarantine camp because it would have to allow international flights to land at Wellcamp Airport.

It is understood the federal government first became aware of the Wellcamp location on Friday, having not heard anything else on the matter since early March.

This is at odds with Ms Palaszczuk who told reporters: “We’ve actually been speaking very regularly with Commonwealth officials. There’s a lot of negotiation still happening.”

Meanwhile an agreement has been reached for the Commonwealth to meet the capital costs for a 500-bed facility in outer Melbourne, while Victoria would cover operational costs.

Mr Morrison says the proposal is “a very good” one.

The federal government is understood to favour Avalon as the ideal location for the facility because the Victorian government’s preferred Mickleham site already has an animal quarantine facility on it.

While Queensland’s proposal is believed to have been scant on detail, Victoria’s formed an 80-page document.

Meanwhile, Australians over 40 will have access to coronavirus vaccines from next week as the nation ramps up its behind-schedule rollout.

The federal government has announced the expansion of the immunisation program, bringing it into line with several states including Victoria, which have already widened to over-40s.

Pfizer jabs will be made available to people aged between 40 to 49 from Tuesday.

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 and above now have access to vaccines, along with National Disability Insurance Scheme recipients and carers.

Victoria will receive an extra 142,000 Pfizer doses over the next week, responding to soaring demand triggered by an ongoing outbreak.

Melbourne’s second week of lockdown is set to run its course after a new variant emerged in a family infected with the disease.

The Delta strain, which has caused devastation across India and the UK, has been found in Australia for the first time but it is unclear where it came from.

Other cases in the outbreak, which has now reached 70 infections, have been classified as the Kappa variant, which also caused havoc across India.

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