Topic(s): Pinkenba Quarantine Facility; National Security
Journalist: Because the government says that they are doubtful the Pinkenba facility will ever be built. When will it be completed and when will it be used?
Simon Birmingham: It’s on track for completion and handover of the first stages of operation at least by the end of March. We are making sure that we build these facilities not just to deal with the next few months of challenges, but for years and decades to come. The facility at Pinkenba will be able to serve Queensland and Australia’s needs in the face of future pandemics, natural disasters or humanitarian crises. These facilities are about making sure that we’ve got the resilience and the capabilities to respond together in the future.
Journalist: Why didn’t the federal government support funding for Wellcamp and why is the Pinkenba facility better?
Simon Birmingham: Our view is that Pinkenba was the right location because of its proximity to a major international airport in Brisbane, its proximity to significant health services across Brisbane, and we saw those as key features in having an enduring capability that can respond to any crisis, not just a short term band-aid.
Journalist: And just lastly, is the Queensland government playing politics with quarantine camps?
Simon Birmingham: We’re not interested in political games on this. We routinely publish the updates of the costs and expenditure from the Federal Government. We’re building this to endure for years and decades to come, and we want Queenslanders to continue to work with us on this project.
Journalist: And do you think Labour’s a threat to national security just looking back at what’s happening in Parliament on that discussion today?
Simon Birmingham: The proof is in the fact that Labor drove defence spending down to its lowest level since 1938. Our government has recovered that with six per cent year on year growth in our defence spending, undertaking now the other most significant modernisation and upgrading of our defence capability in years. That’s the track record as the contrast between the Labor Party that cut defence spending and the Liberal and National parties who have invested in Australia’s security. Thank you.