Overseas arrivals, international arrivals on national cabinet agenda

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has cooled on Queensland's push to establish remote quarantine facilities in disused mining camps. Picture: Getty Images
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has cooled on Queensland's push to establish remote quarantine facilities in disused mining camps. Picture: Getty Images

International borders are set to dominate discussion at Friday's national cabinet meeting, with the leaders of the states and territories to be briefed on new requirements for returning Australians and management of new variants of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will dial into the meeting from Brisbane on Friday, at the end of a week-long tour around Queensland.

Premiers and chief ministers will be briefed on updated protocols for returning Australians, including the new requirement for people flying to Australia to test negative to COVID-19 within 72 hours of their flight's departure.

The new measures have been put in place in an attempt to deal with the threat posed by the new variant of the virus in the United Kingdom, which is believed to be more transmissable than the first variant.

They will also discuss the caps on international passengers and arrangements for seasonal workers, both of which have been in the spotlight as controversy rages over the hundreds of tennis players and other personnel in hotel quarantine ahead of the Australian Open.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has significantly cooled on Queensland's push to use regional mining camps instead of hotels for quarantine.

Earlier in the week, Mr Morrison said he was very open to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's proposal, which is due to come before national cabinet on Friday.

An accommodation facility in Calliope, about 25 kilometres from the central Queensland hub of Gladstone, has been floated as a possible quarantine site.

The prime minister said locals raised sensible concerns and questioned if the state government had done the groundwork to get the community on board.

"For something like that to even be considered, the Premier would have to get the local Labor mayor on board for a start - and I don't think that's happening at this point," Mr Morrison told reporters in Gladstone.


Local health capacity, the lack of clear benefit for the community and coronavirus risks have been raised as potential hurdles.

"There are also concerns that people up here don't want to see Brisbane's issues dumped on those to the north," Mr Morrison said.

Regional quarantine sites were raised after the highly contagious coronavirus strain from the UK was detected in a Brisbane hotel worker.

Ms Palaszczuk is keen to move quarantine away from highly populated areas to minimise the risk of outbreaks sweeping through large numbers of people.

Mr Morrison said more work was needed on the plan.

"Having been up here and done a bit of listening, there's a few questions that have to be squared away before that goes any further," he said.

Key state governments including NSW and WA have rejected the push to shift away from hotels nationally, while Victoria argues it lacks a suitable site.

The leaders will also receive updates and details about the vaccine rollout implementation plan.

There have been no cases of local transmission of the virus across the country for six of the past seven days.

  • with AAP
This story International COVID situation on national cabinet agenda first appeared on The Canberra Times.