Queensland premier questioned over Wellcamp spending reveal
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has responded to questions after the final costs for the Wellcamp quarantine facility were revealed.
The facility, which is commercially owned by the Wagner Corporation but leased by the state government, opened in February, but has now been deemed unnecessary due to the scrapping of quarantine measures.
The $215 million bill was revealed this week with the retirement of the facility announced Monday, but the premier did not respond to spending concerns until Friday.
Only 750 people have passed through the 1000-bed facility, but Palaszczuk maintains building it was necessary given the health advice.
“We needed a quarantine facility built quickly,” she said.
“My job was to keep Queenslanders safe and I’ll stand on my record.”
When questioned over the delays in opening the facility months after 8000 Queenslanders were locked out of the state, she said: “I’ll repeat to you again, today is Strive to Be Kind Day. Strive to be kind.”
Documents reveal the Queensland government first signed a memorandum of understanding with the Commonwealth on August 16 last year, supporting the go-ahead of the quarantine facility at Pinkenba.
Nine days later, the premier announced hotel quarantine would be shut down, leaving thousands stranded on the wrong side of the border, unable to return home.
The next day, the premier announced Wellcamp as a solution to hotel quarantine concerns.
“We’ve got to get on with this, it is a race,” she told 9News last year.
“Two are definitely better than one.”
Neither the Pinkenba facility nor the Wellcamp centre will be used, with Wellcamp to shut down from next month.
Opposition leader David Crisafulli said the decision to build the facility was “dripping in politics”.
“The timing, the way the announcement was made, the circus that had led up to the event,” he said.