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Another federal government’s Covid quarantine hub has closed, leaving taxpayers hundreds of millions.
It was announced on Tuesday that the quarantine facility, 40km north of Melbourne in Mickleham and known as the Center for National Resilience, will close next week.
The $580 million center has housed just 2,168 people since it opened in February, meaning it cost more than $267,000 per person quarantined.
It follows the closure of another federally funded hub at Brisbane’s Pinkenba and one costing $400 million in Bullsbrook, WA, which has yet to open.
Victoria’s quarantine center, the Center for National Resilience in Mickleham, will close next week (pictured, a worker walking through Mickleham’s centre)
The Victorian quarantine facility was funded by the federal government and was open for just eight months at a cost of $580 million (photo, front of Mickleham center)
A small number of employees will work to properly close the facility until it is returned to the federal government.
Breakfast radio host on Sydney’s 2GB Ben Fordham called the closure a ‘money wasted’.
“Let me tell you, we’ve blown some money during Covid, but this is really next level,” he wrote on Facebook.
“Why on earth would we open coronavirus hubs two years after a pandemic?
“They MAY have been useful in 2020. Not now.’
The closure has sparked outrage online, with several people wondering why the facility cannot be used as social housing or crisis shelter rather than standing empty.
Aussie TikToker Beccy Jane also called the center “an absolute waste of money.”
The news comes just months after the Queensland government announced the closure of its $200 million state-funded Wellcamp (above) facility after halting construction of a $400 million federally funded quarantine center in Pinkenba in the inner east of Brisbane
“So, instead of just closing it, why not create shelters for the homeless who are on the streets because they can’t afford to pay the rent right now because the interest rates are so high,” she said.
‘I don’t know, seems logical to me. Is it not?’
It comes just months after the Queensland government announced it would shut down two multi-million dollar quarantine centers.
In July it was announced that the Queensland government did not want construction on the federal government’s planned $400 million Pinkenba Center for National Resilience to begin because it was “no longer needed”.
The hundreds of millions spent on the half-built facility were funded by Australian taxpayers.
Melbourne city center is the only federally funded hub to actually open, meaning taxpayers across the country spent a total of $1.3 billion to quarantine just 2,168 people.
The Morrison government announced the construction of three purpose-built quarantine centers in 2021, ultimately costing Australian taxpayers a total of $1.3 billion to quarantine just 2,168 people (photo, Scott Morrison)
The federally funded quarantine facility in Bullsbrook, Western Australia has not yet opened and construction will not end until August 2022 (pictured, a model room at the WA Quarantine Center)
The Queensland government announced in July the closure of its $200 million facility at Wellcamp near Toowoomba, funded by Queensland taxpayers, after it had been open for just five months.
Victorian Police Secretary Anthony Carbines defended the construction of the soon-to-close Melbourne quarantine center and said it could be used for emergencies in the future.
“The Victorian Quarantine Hub has served its purpose to protect Victorians from Covid-19. The closure is another step in our recovery from the pandemic,” he said.
“Australia needed these facilities before the pandemic first hit, but this important facility now exists as an insurance policy in the event of a future pandemic, or to provide accommodation in emergencies such as natural disasters.”
The Morrison government has controversially announced the construction of three federally funded quarantine centers by the end of 2021.
Many Australians criticized the move, noting that the pandemic was already largely over and quarantine rules would likely change by the time the centers opened.
AUSTRALIA’S QUARANTINE HUBS
Wellcamp was a state-funded venture of the state of Queensland, as the state “wanted to go it alone,” despite plans the federal government had already announced to build a separate quarantine facility.
The camp, located at Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport, cost the Queensland taxpayer more than $200 million.
The facility was open for five months and quarantined 730 people, costing about $325,000 per person in quarantine.
Brisbane National Resilience Center
Located at the Damascus Barracks in Pinkenba, the CNR Brisbane never opened as construction ended in July 2022.
The center received an estimated $400 million in funding from taxpayers nationwide.
Before construction began on the facility, it was found to pose a “moderate risk” to the health of future patients due to the waste left behind from former military operations and asbestos.
The Center for National Resilience Melbourne
The CNR Melbourne, based in Mickleham, cost the Australian taxpayer $580 million.
The center had been open for just over seven months and housed 2,168 people, costing about $267,000 per person in quarantine.
Howard Springs Quarantine Facility
The center closed its doors in June after quarantining more than 64,000 people for two years.
The facility previously existed as a workers’ camp, so construction costs were minimal. However, the Commonwealth has pledged $5 million to keep the facility ready for an emergency over the next year.
The Howard Springs quarantine facility was used as a model for the Centers of National Resilience and was recognized as the safest and most functional quarantine center in Australia.
The Center for National Resilience Perth
The CNR in Perth, located on Defense-owned land in Bullsbrook, was not completed until August 2022.
It has yet to open and will cost Australian taxpayers $400 million.
All other states took advantage of hotel quarantine or created temporary centers from pre-existing structures.