Forcing Tasmanians to pay for their 14-day stint in government-mandated hotel quarantine is unfair because travellers have no other option, the Australian Lawyers Alliance says.
Tasmanian barrister and ALA human rights and criminal justice spokesman Greg Barns said if the government was going to impose quarantine requirements, it ought to pay for them.
When the Tasmanian Parliament returns later this month, the government will table legislation allowing it to implement the Tasmanian Hotel Quarantine Payment Scheme.
Premier Peter Gutwein said the legislation would be retrospective to July 31.
From that date, any person required to enter mandatory government-designated hotel quarantine has to do so at their own expense.
The cost is $2800 per person, $3800 per couple and between $4300 and $4800 for families dependent on the number of children.
Mr Barns said to make people pay for a government requirement was not unheard of but people had a choice in those matters.
“It is unfair in most circumstances because people who are going to Tasmania and having to quarantine are generally coming a good reason,” he said.
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Mr Barns said the government’s decision to suddenly impose a cost of $2800 on people who had no choice but to quarantine was a draconian measure which should be subject to scrutiny by the Parliament.
“The Parliament ought to be debating if it is necessary,” he said.
“It needs to be justified by government because of the severity of the impost.”
A State Control Centre spokesperson said the cost of hotel quarantine was determined in reference to the average daily rate the Tasmanian government had negotiated with accommodation providers across the state.
“This rate includes accommodation and associated services and is a partial recovery of the full cost to the Tasmanian government,” the spokesperson said.
“The fees charged under the Tasmanian Hotel Quarantine Payment Scheme do not reflect the full cost to the Tasmanian government of delivering hotel quarantine.
“To ensure consistency, fairness and clarity, a fixed price is payable for hotel quarantine in Tasmania, regardless of the location of the accommodation facility.”
The spokesperson said people required to pay for hotel quarantine would be issued an invoice.
“The Tasmanian government’s standard 30-day payment terms apply,” they said.
“If payment remains outstanding after the final reminder, recovery arrangements will be made through an external Debt Collection Agency.
“An application process will be available under which people can apply to have their fees waives or reduced.
“Applications attaching relevant evidence can be made on the basis of financial hardship, where there are compassionate or medial reasons for travel, or exceptional circumstances that would make the requirement to pay hotel quarantine fees unreasonable or unfair.”
If the state’s border rules changed and a person in hotel quarantine would no longer be required to enter hotel quarantine if they were travelling to Tasmania after the date of the change they would be permitted to leave the hotel even if they had not completed 14 days of quarantine, the spokesperson confirmed.
“This also applies to a person who is undertaking quarantine at home,” they said.