Politics

Mark McGowan claims he’s thrown NSW hotel quarantine bill out


WA Premier Mark McGowan is continuing his war of words with NSW, this time saying he threw a request from the state into the bin.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan is continuing his war of words with NSW, admitting he had scrunched up a $5 million bill for hotel quarantine and thrown it in the bin.

Western Australia and NSW have repeatedly butted heads over their respective handling of the pandemic.

One sticking point for NSW has been the money the state has spent bringing back thousands of international arrivals.

NSW has long had the highest cap for international arrivals when Australia’s borders were closed, taking as many as 3000 Australians a week into hotel quarantine before they were freed to fly home to their respective states.

Figures from Revenue NSW revealed earlier this week that NSW is still owed $110.3 million for its hotel quarantine program.

Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory also owe an extra $65.85 million in an agreement from April 2020.

WA alone owes $16.4 million to NSW for hotel quarantine after the state was served with a $5 million bill earlier this month.

But Mr McGowan already blasted the bill as “ridiculous”, telling reporters he had thrown it out.

“On behalf of every Western Australian, the invoice has been treated exactly how it should be — it is scrunched up in a ball at the bottom of my bin,” Mr McGowan said, according to The West Australian.

“Western Australia has never agreed, nor ever will agree, to such preposterous demands from the other side of the country.

“We all have a responsibility to look after returning Australians and Western Australia has done more than our fair share of the heavy lifting per capita, so for NSW to demand millions in payments from every Western Australian is wrong.”

While Queensland and Western Australia have refused to pay their NSW bills, all other states have settled theirs.

Mr McGowan said the hotel quarantine bills were “arrogant and “un-Australian”.

“Western Australians should not be penalised for doing such a good job of managing the pandemic, especially by a state that has not only mismanaged the virus, but in doing so sparked other outbreaks across the nation, including here in WA,” he said.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said this week it was time for the states with outstanding bills to pay up.

“We want them to pay up, they shirked their responsibility during Covid, they locked their citizens out their states and tried to stop them coming home,” Mr Kean said.

“We (NSW) accepted them and it‘s only fair that those state and territories come good with the money that NSW taxpayers have footed.”

Hotel quarantine was introduced in March 2020 in response to the Covid pandemic and after Australia announced its borders would be closed to foreigners.

The long-hated program, which saw returning travellers having to pay $3000 to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks, was finally ditched by NSW and Victoria in November 2021.

Fully vaccinated Australians are free to return from overseas and not do any quarantine in NSW and Victoria.

From Saturday, Queensland will also accept fully vaccinated travellers from overseas.



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