As COVID-stranded travellers continue to return home, Canberra is doing its bit by taking two planeloads of returnees this week.
ACT Health is assuring us that all appropriate measures will be taken to avoid any transmission and the virus escaping into the community, and that the risks have been successfully managed before. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt agrees.
But experts like UNSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws say the quarantine system is about to be really tested as the Federal Government increases the number of people being allowed home.
She believes that we need purpose-built facilities, not hotels where untrained staff can so easily let their guard down and that the facilities also need to be outside big population centres, particularly Sydney and Melbourne.
Reader Chewy said: “We’ve now had two outbreaks caused by the state hotel quarantine systems and they need rethinking.
“Returned travellers are far and away the greatest risk to major outbreaks and need to be treated differently than the current system. Whilst it may be painful for those returned travellers to be locked away for two weeks in purpose-built facilities, the risk to the rest of the population and the wider economy is too great.”
And Meredith thought that fast saliva testing should be carried out on a daily basis in medi-hotels: “It gives results in five or so minutes and is very cheap and work by Joshua Gans suggests that they are accurate. If someone tests positive with that method then action can be immediately taken. Authorities can also do back up testing with the more expensive testing that takes 24 hours.”
We asked Should the ACT accept overseas travellers into hotel quarantine?
Your answers were very close to even as 1179 people voted. Your options were to vote Yes, it can be managed safely and we all need to share the load. This option received 47 per cent of the total or 553 votes. Alternatively, you could vote No, we’re COVID-free and the risks are unacceptably high. This attracted 53 per cent of the total or 626 votes.
This week, we’re wondering about who pays for our roads. As Australia makes the transition to renewably powered vehicles, there will be a predictable decline in the fuel excise.
So should electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles pay a road usage charge? South Australia thinks so: motorists there who drive electric vehicles will pay the charge from 2021.
And Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas says the charges could net around $30 million per annum, offset by $45 million in the next Budget for measures to encourage electric car use, such as the creation of more charging stations.
But opponents say that the charges could discourage the uptake of renewably powered vehicles.
Not all monies from fuel excise fund roads, but it remains the primary road user charge. The ACT Greens want Canberra to be the nation’s electric car capital, with 90 per cent of new car sales to be zero-emission by 2030.
As a result of the new government agreement signed between Labor and the Greens, the ACT will also be the only jurisdiction in Australia to offer zero-interest loans to help subsidise new and used electric vehicle purchases.
Our question is: