Queensland government has spent $27m on COVID-19 hotel quarantine despite program ending

The Queensland government revealed it has paid $26.9 million in hotel quarantine fees in the past seven and a half weeks, despite announcing an end to hotel quarantine six weeks ago.

More than 125,993 people have been through hotel quarantine during the pandemic, with 5,114 people in 22 hotels during the peak.

Eight hotels are still operational, six of which are being used to isolate vulnerable people in regional locations.

People who are homeless and need a place to isolate can use the hotels while they recover from COVID-19.

Those who live in a share house or do not have appropriate accommodation to isolate at can also use the quarantine hotels.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles argued the state government has saved $8.5 million on hotel quarantine per month, since the opening of the Wellcamp regional quarantine facility.

“By the time the additional hotels such as those in regional Queensland cease in the coming months, there will be a further saving of $5.7 million per month,” Mr Miles said.

Mr Miles told parliament the government was taking a staggered approach to ending hotel quarantine to “ensure sufficient contingency to support our healthcare system”.

He also said the government was obligated to see out contracts made with hotels.

“When a decision is made not to keep a hotel operational it does not mean that those contractual obligations cease immediately,” he said.

Mr Miles said there were also savings associated with no longer needing security, health and community support at the facilities.

‘Waste of taxpayers’ money’

Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk also faced tough questioning in Parliament about the state’s spending on hotel quarantine facilities.

The last hotel quarantine guest checked out on February 16, but opposition leader David Crisafulli seized on media reports the government was still paying for “empty rooms and meals that were never served”.

“How can you justify the waste of taxpayers’ money?” Mr Crisafulli said.

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