- The QLD govt won’t renew the lease for the Wellcamp base
- The Covid quarantine facility cost taxpayers $220million
- It housed 730 people since opening in February last year
The Queensland government has decided not to renew the lease for the taxpayer-funded Wellcamp Covid quarantine facility when it expires next month.
The 1,000-bed facility located near Toowoomba west of Brisbane was opened in February 2022 to quarantine international arrivals entering the country.
It only housed 730 people in that time and cost taxpayers more than $220million in construction and running costs.
For the first few months after it opened, it housed an average of 30 guests per week.
A spokesperson for Queensland’s deputy premier Steven Miles confirmed the base would be ditched by the state government when the contract ends next month.
‘The facility remains available until the end of the current lease and following that, its future use will be determined by Wagner Corporation,’ the spokesperson told the ABC.
They added that because of the centre’s location its ‘other uses’ in the future were not ‘straightforward’.
The facility was constructed by the family-owned Wagner Corporation on private land also owned by the Wagner family.
The Palaszczuk government gave the Wagner Corporation $48.8million to build the facility.
Health minister Yvette D’Ath defended the decision by the Palaszczuk government to build the centre in a press conference on Tuesday.
‘Wellcamp is a really important facility that we needed to commit to,’ she explained.
Ms D’Ath suggested that the state was forced to build the base due to a lack of support from the Morrison government when it came to quarantining overseas arrivals during the height of the pandemic.
‘The Commonwealth at the time did nothing to help us with quarantining people who were at risk of having Covid, which would have meant Queenslanders would have been exposed to Covid prior to our community getting vaccinated,’ she said.
Wagner Corporation chairman John Wagner said the base would be used to house workers from the agriculture sector once the lease with the state government ended.
‘We’re dealing with a number of (agricultural) operators who are desperate for accommodation for…workers,’ he said.
‘Some of these abattoirs just can’t find accommodation for their workers that they bring into the country.’
Mr Wagner said he didn’t expect the state government would renew the 12-month lease once it expired.
He added that the corporation intends to leave the facility where it is for the ‘long-term’.
Since the cessation of Covid restrictions, the base has been used to temporarily house flood victims and Ukrainian refugees.