MoU Signed for Pinkenba Quarantine Facility

The Pinkenba Quarantine Facility is now one step closer to opening up after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The Commonwealth has forged an agreement with the Queensland Government to build a 1,000-bed quarantine facility by mid-2022. Located at a 30-hectare lot within the Damascus Barracks, the site is in proximity to the Brisbane Airport, cruise terminals, and hospitals. 

Despite Queensland’s success in controlling coronavirus outbreaks, the region remains vulnerable to transmissions at the borders. Whilst vaccination has been ramped up, threats of the virus, especially with the more dominant and highly transmissible Delta variant, looms.

“Following countless breaches from the nation’s hotel quarantine system it’s clear there is an urgent need for more fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities throughout Australia,” Deputy Premier Steven Miles said. 

“With NSW and Victoria in lockdown, we cannot afford more leaks from hotel quarantine.”

Photo Credit: Ozatwar/Australian Government

Construction of the Pinkenba Quarantine Facility will be financed by the Commonwealth whilst Queensland will provide the services once it’s opened. 

“Until all Australians have been offered a vaccination, quarantine facilities will remain Australia’s frontline in preventing deadly new strains of COVID-19 from entering our community,” Mr Miles added. 

Meanwhile, the Queensland Government will also build another quarantine facility near the airport at Wellcamp, Toowoomba. Construction of this site will start by Christmas 2021. 

Plans to be Drafted for Pinkenba COVID-19 Quarantine Facility

A COVID-19 quarantine facility for travellers coming to Queensland has been earmarked for Pinkenba with infrastructure consultancy group AECOM assigned to draft and develop the plans to accommodate at least 1,450 people.

The project’s construction will be funded by the Commonwealth but managed from day to day by the State Government. Federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said that the Pinkenba site was chosen because of its proximity to Brisbane’s international airport and at least four major hospitals. 

The proposed site, the Damascus Barracks, which spans 35 hectares, is owned by the Commonwealth and has been used as a storage for the Department of Defence. The Federal Government hopes to begin construction by the end of 2021, alongside a similar proposal for Victoria’s quarantine facility.

A feasibility study for the Pinkenba facility has started to help both Commonwealth and State determine the size of the operation.

Photo Credit: Ozatwar/Australian Government

However, the Queensland Government is also pushing to build a Wellness Camp in Toowoomba, which could be built in two months, ahead of the Pinkenba site. Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed hesitation for the Toowoomba facility as it does not meet the criteria for quarantine sites, which should be built on Commonwealth-owned land.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that if both sites will be up and running, there will be no more need for hotel quarantines, the current system in place for travellers going into Queensland. 

As of 14 July, Queensland has five new cases acquired overseas and detected in hotel quarantine. The national cabinet has also cut down the cap for international arrivals to Australia to 3,000, which has the support of Ms Palaszczuk. The cap could remain in place for the rest of the year.