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Rottnest Island may reopen as quarantine zone to help stranded Australians come home


ABC News: West Matteeussen


WA Premier Mark McGowan has flagged reopening Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth, as a quarantine facility to enable thousands of Australians stranded overseas to come home.

The island was closed to visitors earlier this year to house cruise ship passengers and arrivals on international flights for two weeks, alongside CBD hotels.

The Federal Government wants to lift the cap on international arrivals which is currently limited to 4,000 people each week.

Mr McGowan yesterday said he would consider lifting WA’s cap of 525 people per week if the Commonwealth allowed the arrivals to be quarantined in federally-run army bases or detention centres.

But in a change of tack today, Mr McGowan told ABC Radio Perth he would be willing to discuss using Rottnest Island, which in non-COVID times is an internationally renowned holiday destination known for its white beaches and cute native marsupials, as an alternative.

“I am happy to talk to the Commonwealth about that. I’ve said all along that Rottnest could be available if required in these circumstances,” Mr McGowan said.

“Obviously the school holidays are coming up, lots of people have booked holidays, but the urgency of this I don’t think is in the next week or two.
“I think it’s in the next few months so the potential is there for Rottnest if the Commonwealth wants to work with us on that.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there were currently about 36,000 Australian residents living overseas, and more than 27,000 of those had expressed a desire to return home.

Reporting by Eliza Laschon.

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