Regional quarantine plan needed now: KAP

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto has called for the State Government to have a plan in place to shut North Queensland’s border, should a COVID-19 outbreak occur in south-east Queensland.

A contingency plan to protect North Queensland from future outbreaks of COVID-19 in the state’s south-east must be developed by the end of this week, Katter’s Australian Party MPs have said.

KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said while many had welcomed the Premier’s decision to close Queensland’s borders to New South Wales and the ACT this weekend, more needed to be done to limit any potential spread of the virus throughout the state.

Mr Katter said regional quarantine zones, namely which protect the North and regions from the populous south-east corner, had to be pre-defined and the necessary arrangements made to enforce these internal borders well ahead of time.

“We are all navigating through some very uncertain times right now and we understand it’s going to be tough across the board,” he said.

“However we cannot stress enough how important it is that protections be put in place across the state, and particularly in the North, should the worst occur in the south-east corner.

“Queensland is too diverse and broad for one set of rules– if Brisbane suffers an outbreak, we will expect swift action from the Premier to protect our communities up here and enable them to continue to function normally unless local outbreaks also occur.”

Mr Katter said regional quarantine would mean travel between different zones would be banned unless for limited, exempt purposes.

He said it was vital the North’s economy, largely underpinned by the mining and agricultural sectors, be safeguarded so it could support the rest of the state and nation.

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said it was imperative the State Government had a contingency plan for a North Queensland border, and a trigger point to implement it.

“We cannot have a situation like last time where the entire state was shut down primarily because of the large number of COVID-19 cases in the south-east,” he said.

“The North has done exceptionally well to remain coronavirus-free for some time now and a regional bubble would allow us to operate with business as usual, should it need to be implemented.

“The government needs to be prepared and I call on Premier Palaszczuk to work with the KAP so we have an effective strategy in place.”

Mr Dametto said local businesses “would not survive” another shutdown.

“Businesses across the North that have survived the first lockdown cannot possibly go through another round of heavy COVID-19 restrictions,” he said.

“The Premier is doing the right thing to protect the health of Queenslanders but there needs to be a plan to protect our economy.

“Now is not the time for complacency.”

Nick Dametto MP