Acting Premier James Merlino announced Donnybrook Road in Mickleham as the preferred location for the 500-bed hub today, but warned the $15 million plan was “subject to Commonwealth agreement”.
The plan comes after Victoria’s embattled hotel system led to a number of COVID-19 leakages, ultimately sparking the state’s deadly second wave last year.
“The best way to keep our communities safe is by having a dedicated purpose-built quarantine facility modelled on Howard Springs, but having a Howard Springs in a Victorian context,” Mr Merlino said today.
The facility would take four months to build, with the state government asking the Commonwealth to foot the mammoth $100 million bill to construct the 500-bed hub.
The cost to expand the facility to 3000 beds would be around $700 million.
The state government should know by September whether the Commonwealth is onboard with the plan.
“We’re engaging with the Commonwealth, we will work closely with them, because ultimately this is a Commonwealth responsibility,” Mr Merlino said.
“Whilst the Commonwealth is considering the proposal and business case … to ensure we don’t waste any time, the Victorian Government will crack on and do the detailed design and planning.”
“By September it will be the go or no-go decision. This is about giving us options, options to make our community even safer.”
Mr Merlino said if approved, the quarantine hub could be opened by the end of the year.
The final decision whether to proceed with construction would also depend on the progress of the state’s vaccine rollout, the efficacy of the jabs in preventing transmission and Commonwealth decisions on travel and quarantine rules.
“Today’s announcement is about encouraging the Commonwealth to work with us in a partnership, to look at this alternative quarantine proposal and making sure that by working together, we can make the plans that are required to make sure that we get this right,” Acting Police Minister Danny Pearson said.
Mr Merlino said the government considered a number of factors when selecting the location, including proximity to Melbourne Airport, public health centres and services, health hotels and the CBD.
He acknowledged local residents may be concerned about living nearby to a quarantine facility.
“I understand the views of communities wherever this site may have been identified as the preferred location,” he said.
“There’s always going to be a response and I understand that.”