Remote quarantine plan sparks mining worry

Australia must be careful in managing COVID health issues for the mining industry, the PM says.
Australia must be careful in managing COVID health issues for the mining industry, the PM says.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has raised concerns Queensland's push to quarantine international arrivals in regional camps could endanger the mining industry.

Friday's national cabinet meeting of federal and state leaders is set to discuss Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's plan to use remote sites instead of CBD hotels.

The state government wants national changes to avoid highly contagious new strains of coronavirus being exposed to capital cities.

Mr Morrison said heavy industries including mining had been major contributors to Australia's economic performance during the pandemic.

"We've got to be careful how we manage the health issues around COVID, that we don't put those sort of things at risk," he told 4BC radio on Friday.

After meeting with locals in the central Queensland town of Gladstone, which is close to the site floated for quarantining arrivals, the prime minister has cooled on the proposal.

"There are a lot of concerns being expressed up there," Mr Morrison said.

"If the Queensland government wants to proceed with this then they're going to have to address those issues up there with the local community."

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said quarantine was a federal responsibility under the constitution.

"Why haven't we got the federal government actually coming up with a plan which has quarantine arrangements around the country which allow stranded Australians to get home?" he told the Nine Network.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is worried fly-in, fly-out workers coming to Gladstone could be exposed to coronavirus and infect other parts of the country.

"People in Gladstone are really scratching their heads as to why they need to have a quarantine facility in their backyard," he told Nine.

National cabinet will be briefed on new travel protocols that mandate tests and masks on all flights entering Australia.

Passengers will need to display evidence of a negative test result from a coronavirus test taken within three days of their scheduled departure.

Mr Morrison will dial in to national cabinet from Brisbane after spending the week touring regional Queensland talking up the economic recovery.

Medical advisers will update the leaders on how new variants of coronavirus are being managed.

The gathering will be briefed on vaccine planning, as the Therapeutic Goods Administration finalises advice on the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs, which will be the mainstay of this year's program.

It is expected the leaders will discuss arrangements to get more seasonal workers into farming regions desperate to pick crops.

Australian Associated Press