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Australia news live update: new Covid rules in NSW as medical chief says ‘missing link’ in cases still unknown

Here’s a little bit of off-Broadway quarantine news, from AAP. It relates to a plan to quarantine foreign workers at a Darwin mining camp.

Here’s the report:

The Northern Territory Health Minister has cast doubt on an ambitious plan to quarantine foreign workers at a former Darwin mining camp used by the US Marines.

Industry groups have urged the Commonwealth and NT government to retask the Bladin Point Worker Village as a COVID-19 quarantine facility.

The facility is currently used to quarantine Marines arriving in the NT with the US Rotational Force Darwin but the Australian Defence Force’s lease expires on July 15.

NT Farmers Association says the camp could help alleviate the critical national worker shortage faced by the agricultural and hospitality sectors.

But NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles says Bladin Point isn’t a government facility and bringing it up to specification could be tough.

“It’s a private property so if there was to be a facility set up there it’s more than having the chief health officer tick off on what’s there,” she told reporters on Thursday.

“[The NT government doesn’t] control who comes into Australia and we don’t own that facility, and who would pay for it?”

Ms Fyles said it was “hugely” expensive to run a quarantine facility and it would need to be run at the same high standard as the Howard Springs quarantine facility.

Any proposal would also need the Commonwealth’s backing and consider the potential impact on the local health system, she said.

NT Farmers chief executive Paul Burke has previously said industry is struggling to find suitable facilities to quarantine overseas workers.

“Farmers around the country are begging politicians for a solution to the massive seasonal workforce shortage that has arisen due to the COVID-19 border closures last year,” he said.

“Without additional workers, farmers will be forced to let produce go to waste and food prices will rise for all Australians.”

Under the proposal, various industries from around Australia will be able to use the facility to quarantine their own workers.

The agricultural industry alone is facing a shortage of 20,000 workers, Mr Burke said.

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