‘Why bring it here?’: Business icon slams quarantine plan
Toowoomba's multi-millionaire philanthropist Clive Berghofer has come out strongly opposing a proposed quarantine facility, saying he feared an outbreak would destroy the city.
It comes as local medicos are warning there are big issues that need to be resolved if approval is to be considered for the facility at Wellcamp.
The philanthropist, who has a LifeFlight Centre and the Cancer Research Centre in Brisbane named after him, said he feared for the consequences if anything went wrong.
"I have too much faith in this city to have it destroyed," Mr Berghofer said.
"It doesn't matter how good the thing is, someone always bucks the system.
"It hasn't got over the ranges yet, it's mostly been in the capital cities. Why bring it (COVID-19) to virgin country?"
Mr Berghofer said he had strong concerns about the impact on businesses and the city's hospitals if the virus escaped the facility, as had happened in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
"I've seen a fair bit of life, and I can forecast a lot of problems with common sense," he said.
Groom MP Garth Hamilton said concerns raised with him by the local medical community had hardened his position to oppose the facility.
"There's significant concerns around those hospitals ability to continue with day to day operations and deal with an outbreak," he said.
"I don't see how this plan makes Toowoomba safer."
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Professor Chris Perry said local doctors had raised the need for more information around several areas of concern.
"For example, what contingency planning would be in place in the event of a COVID outbreak? How would local hospital capacity be shored up? And where would a suitably qualified workforce be accommodated?" Prof Perry said.
"Above all, local doctors should be at the centre of developing a quarantine program in a location like Toowoomba, as they have the expertise to address the needs of the community," he said.
The proposal was first raised by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last month.
A spokeswoman for the Premier said Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated after the last National Cabinet meeting that the idea had merit and warranted further investigation.
"Any regional quarantine facility would be in partnership with the Commonwealth and is being progressed on that basis," she said.
"The Department of Premier and Cabinet along with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet are working well in progressing the necessary detail."
It is understood they are working through many of the issues raised by concerned parties.
Originally published as 'Why bring it here?': Berghofer slams quarantine plan