Quarantine guests run up $270k bill on NSW taxpayer
The state government is trying to claw back $270,994 from returned travellers who have yet to pay their COVID hotel quarantine bills.
It comes as the Tasmania government announced NSW residents may be able to travel to the island without needing to quarantine if local cases remained low until next Friday.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said he would reclassify NSW as a low-risk area on November 6 as long as there were no major outbreaks.
"What we want to see in a jurisdiction that we open up to is less than five cases of unknown transmission in the last 28 days," he said.
"Over the last 28 days NSW has had six … in a population of nearly eight million people. So they are on top of this, but we want to ensure that as we move closer to (next) Friday there are no further major outbreaks," he said.
Exclusive data from Revenue NSW shows that 87 debt recovery orders have been issued in the state for the repayment of quarantine costs. So far only $6000 has been recovered. Overseas travellers are required to pay $3000 for their mandatory 14-day quarantine. Additional adults staying in the same accommodation cost $1000 each, children $500.
About 38,500 travellers have completed hotel quarantine in NSW since the government introduced the fees in July.
As at October 23, about 42 per cent of fees were unresolved, however the majority of fees are not yet due. A Revenue NSW spokesman said debt recovery orders (DRO) were issued after a reminder notice due date has expired.
"The DRO were issued on 19 October. To date, 87 DROs with a value of $270,994 have been issued to NSW, interstate and international residents. There has been $6000 in payment from DROs so far."
Some travellers are eligible for fee waivers based on when their flights were purchased or if they were NSW residents returning from Victoria during the fee moratorium.
Authorities have also handed out 1920 fines for COVID breaches since the start of the pandemic but less than 20 per cent have been paid by offenders so far.
"The rest are in various stages of the collections processes, including payment plans, work and development orders, or are going to court," the spokeswoman said.
RBA SAYS RECESSION IS OVER
Australia is technically out of recession according to Reserve Bank deputy governor Guy Debelle, who says national economic growth has outstripped the "drag" caused by the Victorian coronavirus wave.
Dr Debelle told a senate estimates hearing on Tuesday the bank believes the country's first recession in almost three decades ended in the September quarter.
"At the moment it looks like the September quarter for the country probably recorded positive growth rather than slightly negative," he said.
"The growth elsewhere in the country was more than the drag from Victoria and the drag from Victoria was possibly a little less than what we guessed back in August."
Australia officially entered recession in June after recording two quarters of negative growth, fuelled by the lockdown in the first coronavirus wave and ongoing international border closures.
Despite a growing belief a technical recession is over, Australia's path to recovery is far from certain according to economists concerned about the 930,000 unemployed.
Originally published as Quarantine guests run up $270k bill on NSW taxpayer