Defence to take over Australia’s most infamous quarantine hub?
ADF LEASE DISCUSSIONS
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is looking to lease the controversial Howard Springs COVID-19 Quarantine Facility, to “accommodate the growing number of military personnel in the NT”.
The Defence Department has now confirmed it is in negotiations with the Northern Territory government about leasing the facility, which currently costs NT taxpayers $400,000 per month to maintain.
“Potential future use options for the site have been canvassed during routine discussions between Defence and the Northern Territory Government,” a Defence spokesperson said.
The ADF’s interest in the facility comes after the last 12 months saw an estimated 6,500 Australian and international military personnel in the Territory for several joint-military exercises, including 2,500 for Exercise Pitch Black, 2,000 under the U.S. Marine rotation, and another 2,000 for Exercise Predators Run.
At present, the ADF has a dock and naval airbase in Darwin harbour, an airbase at Darwin airport and two military facilities being upgraded. Near Katherine, the Tindal RAAF base is being upgraded to host the larger B52 aircraft at the cost of billions of dollars.
Military training grounds are also abound the Kakadu, Tiwi Islands, and east Arnhem land during annual joint military training exercises.
As a result, the military now says it ‘needs more accommodation’ to ‘house all of the soldiers’ both from Australia and overseas.
NT Chief Minister, Natasha Fyles, says no final decisions have been made and that the Commonwealth still has priority access should it be needed for a pandemic-related issue over the next six months.
“We did enter with the Commonwealth government into a period of having it on standby for COVID-19 if it was needed,” Fyles told reporters.
She further noted: “As we’ve shifted this second half of the year very much to a community-based illness, it’s less and less likely that it is needed to be used.”
“And so we’ll work with the Commonwealth, including Defence, around the longer-term use of that facility.”
Late last year, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute called Howard Springs “a model for building national resilience“, praising the size and scope of operations undertaken by the facility.
The quarantine facility made international headlines during lockdown periods over the authoritarian nature of housing mandatory ‘removals from the NT community’.
HOWARD SPRINGS CONTROVERSY
The Howard Springs centre was used as a quarantine facility during COVID-19 restriction madness, where more than 64,000 people were put in isolation, made up of around 41,800 residents and at least 22,000 individuals from overseas.
In November 2021, the facility made international headlines after the ADF — who are looking to lease the facility now — ‘transferred’ so-called positive cases from remote indigenous communities to the grounds.
In addition, entire communities were sealed off from the public, where nobody was allowed to leave or enter until vaccination rates were boosted in the community.
We witnessed stories of individuals being hunted by NT police services after escaping from the facility, fuelling more discussion about Australia’s unprecedented responses to the ‘virus’:
Let’s not forget this was one month after anti-terrorism police stalked, beat and fired on peaceful protesters in Melbourne. Indeed, the entire world was watching Australia with a keen eye.
As such, NT Premier Michael Gunner faced significant international backlash over his decisions and his aggressive attitude that “if you are anti-vaxx, you are anti-science”. He soon broke down to the cameras:
It would only be a few months later that Michael was out the door and off into the sunset.
With Natasha Fyles stating that the facility remains operational in the event of a future pandemic, or the ADF stating they would like to use it for their own purposes, it is important to remember this story.
Remember what happened in this little community just 14 months ago, and subsequent stories like the locking down of unvaccinated citizens that were to follow.
We have seen how quickly things can change in the blink of an eye.
Let’s all keep an eye on some of these moves being made behind the scenes.
Will this really be used simply for ‘accommodation’?
Could a future ‘pandemic’ quickly swings things back into full gear?
Be sure to leave your thoughts below!
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