State chasing staggering $20m quarantine bill

Debt collectors may be used to recover almost $20m in unpaid hotel quarantine bills from travellers who have stayed in Western Australia during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Responding to questions from Nationals MP Martin Aldridge in parliament, the state government revealed as at April 30, more than 43,000 travellers had stayed in hotel quarantine.

More than 33,000 invoices had been issued and almost 4000 people had part or all of their fee waived due to hardship.

Almost 6000 invoices remain outstanding, totalling more than $19.5m.

The Mercure Hotel is no longer being used to quarantine people. NCA NewsWire/Tony McDonoughSource:News Corp Australia

Health Minister Roger Cook said there had been a backlog to issue the invoices, but it was now a digital system and therefore a much more seamless process.

“We will be expecting everyone to pay their invoice unless they’ve of course been given a waiver,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Asked if debt collectors would be called in, Mr Cook said: “If necessary. This is a debt which is owed to the state and it will be managed in the usual manner.”

Western Australia recently dumped the Mercure and Four Points by Sheraton hotels from his quarantine system after both were linked to outbreaks and deemed high risk for ventilation issues.

The Novotel is now only being used for very low risk seasonal workers.

Premier Mark McGowan also requested the state’s weekly overseas arrivals cap be permanently halved to 530 people.

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