Legislation which will allow the government to charge travellers for their compulsory stay in hotel quarantine is set to pass the lower house with Labor, the Greens and Clark independent MHA Madeleine Ogilvie indicating their support for the measure.
The government will table the legislation when Parliament returns later this month but it will be retrospective to July 31.
Any traveller required to enter hotel quarantine after this date has to do so at their own expense, costing $2800 per person, $3800 per couple and between $4300 and $4800 for families dependent on the number of children.
Labor leader Rebecca White said the government had made its intention to charge travellers clear a number of weeks ago.
“They gave adequate warning and there are exemptions in place if people have vulnerabilities or they cannot afford to pay,” Ms White said.
But she said it was frustrating because the Parliament was not sitting the government had to introduce retrospective legislation.
“This has been why Labor has been arguing for the Parliament to be in session so we can support the government in its COVID response and we can ensure anything that needs to be addressed could be addressed immediately,” she said.
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Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said in principal the Greens supported cost recovery in relation to quarantine hotels when it was fair and reasonable.
“This is clearly a costly policy in a climate where the government’s revenue has sharply decreased and the need to spend on social supports is much higher,” Ms O’Connor said.
“It’s not unreasonable for travellers to be expected to meet some costs although the proposed charges are high, and in some cases will be unaffordable.
“It will be important, however, to ensure that there are exemptions for those who cannot afford the costs and are travelling for compassionate or unavoidable purposes.”
Ms Ogilvie said Tasmania was one of the last jurisdictions to introduce a hotel quarantine fee and she understood the need to manage costs.
“Let’s remember that we are a small island with limited resources. People who have the capacity to help meet costs, I am certain, will want to play their part,” she said.
“With any cost that is applied I expect there to be exemptions and concessions for people who are suffering hardship or are traveling for medical reasons. I have sought information on this process.”
Ms Ogilvie said she was not generally supportive of retrospective legislation as it may lead to unintended consequences but in this case, because it was an emergency, she would keep an open mind about the model.
“I look forward to reading the detail of the legislation when it becomes available,” she said.