WA to receive an extra 500 international arrivals per week by October 11 amid ADF support pledge

Western Australia will take an extra 500 international arrivals per week by October 11 in a staged approach to lifting the current cap, with the Commonwealth providing an “express guarantee of support” through the Australian Defence Force, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.

Speaking after a meeting of the National Cabinet today, Mr Morrison said he and the premiers had been able to compromise on the highly contentious issue.

WA Premier Mark McGowan had been strongly critical of the Federal Government’s announcement earlier in the week, when it announced it would lift the limit on international arrivals.

That decision would have delivered WA an extra 500 people per week from next Friday.

Mr McGowan said there had been no consultation and any additional intake into WA would require significantly increased Commonwealth support to provide COVID-19 quarantine for the new arrivals.

Today, the Prime Minister said WA — along with Queensland — would take an extra 200 people per week from September 27, and an extra 500 per week by October 11.

New South Wales will take an extra 500 people from September 27.

“I welcome their support for that today,” Mr Morrison said.

He said this would give those states more time to get quarantine measures in place, with an “express guarantee of support” from the Commonwealth in the form of ADF assistance for the task.

“These are Western Australians coming home to Western Australia,” Mr Morrison said.

Call for Border Force help

Earlier today, WA Health Minister Roger Cook said Australian Border Force officers at airports should stop “sitting around” and help the state deal with the Commonwealth’s increased quota of international arrivals.

“We have a large Border Force contingent operating at all our ports and airports,” Mr Cook told ABC Radio Perth.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook has been demanding more assistance from the Commonwealth to cope with increased overseas arrivals entering the quarantine system.(ABC News: James Carmody)

“Now, they’re obviously not busy at the moment. We don’t have large numbers of people coming into the state, into the country.

Border Force has been contacted for a response.

Each quarantine hotel in WA requires three doctors and nine nurses, as well as welfare staff, working around the clock.

Mr Cook warned WA was already at capacity with seven hotels housing about 2,000 people in quarantine.

He said there would be consequences if more doctors and nurses had to be taken from hospitals to work at new quarantine hotels.

“Ultimately, there’s a limitation to what we can do in the hotel area without detracting from our hospital services,” Mr Cook said.

Any future potential outbreak of the virus in WA would be the Commonwealth’s responsibility, he added.

“If we are forced to stretch our resources, if we’re forced to lower the standard of hotel quarantining and ultimately there’s some outbreaks, well the Commonwealth is responsible for that because they’re the ones that have produced this situation, which is putting the system at breaking point,” Mr Cook said.

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