Debt collectors set on COVID bills
Queensland Health is bringing in private debt collectors to recoup millions of dollars in unpaid hotel quarantine bills.
Nearly 30,000 invoices have been issued - worth a collective $87.7 million - since travellers began paying for their own hotel quarantine in Queensland last July.
The Queensland Government over $52 million of this figure is still outstanding, with18 per cent of those bills overdue for payment and 9.7 per cent were significantly overdue.
“Queenslanders rightly expect travellers will pay for their hotel quarantine stays and not leave taxpayers to foot the bill,” a Queensland Health spokesperson said this week.
“Until recently, we have chosen not to use debt recovery options but, given the financial burden on taxpayers, this has now become necessary.
“Queensland Health will begin engaging a private debt collector to manage significantly overdue invoices in the coming weeks.”
Quarantine costs for a single adult are about $2,800, $3,710 for two adults and $4,620 for two adults and two children.
Travellers have 30 days to pay after their invoice is issued.
Some payment plans have been offered, and those on payment plans will not be referred for debt collection.
The Government is also considering a new bill that would force people to pay their quarantine fees before they arrive in Queensland, and allow a third party such as an employer to accept liability for a hotel quarantine bill.
The changes are aimed at seasonal farm workers and those who support service-related industries such as tourism and education.
“The bill will improve the state's ability to recoup quarantine-related expenses and ensure that Queensland's quarantine system remains sustainable and responsive to changing public health and economic circumstances,” Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said
“Persons will still be able to apply for a fee waiver where, for example, they are a vulnerable person or are experiencing financial hardship.”