NSW premier defends collection of unpaid quarantine hotel fee from people’s bank account

NSW premier defends collection of unpaid quarantine hotel fee from people’s bank account
  • PublishedOctober 9, 2023

Revenue NSW is still chasing the $3,000 fee from more than 17,000 people who have not paid.

And it has issued more than 5,000 “garnishee orders” to debtors’ bank accounts in an attempt to claw back the almost $40 million in outstanding hotel quarantine fees.

NSW took the bulk of international travellers returning to the country into its hotel quarantine system, which started in March 2020 and was initially free of charge until July 2020.

the premier of new south wales chris minns stands outdoors at redfern train station answering questions from the media
The premier said people with overdue fees were warned many times to pay.(ABC News)

Premier Chris Minns said people had been warned for “years and years” to pay their bill, and the government needed the money to pay for essential services.

“Those people were warned many times,” Mr Minns said.

“The system was put in place so that we could allow people to come back into Australia in extremely difficult circumstances, and the quarantine payment issue could be sorted at a later date.

“Well, that date is today, and unfortunately the government needs that money to run essential services in the state.”

‘Seems like an overreach’

Former Victorian resident Justin De Vries said Revenue NSW took $3,000 from his bank account about three weeks ago.

“It seems like an overreach. You could say it’s creepy,” Mr De Vries said.

“I saw several thousand dollars out of my bank account, that’s how I knew.

“Perhaps I missed an email, I don’t believe I’ve been contacted. There was no phone call.”

former victorian resident justin de vries looks at a laptop camera in an interview about hotel quarantine fees
Mr De Vries returned to Australia in January 2021 and stayed at the Marriott Hotel in Sydney during his isolation period.(ABC News)

Mr De Vries said he returned from Europe to Australia in January 2021 for “personal reasons” and is now back living in Europe.

He admitted he had been avoiding the fee, because his two-week isolation at the Marriott Hotel in Sydney was “mistreatment” and the food provided was not hotel standard.

“It was actually inedible. I begged them to stop giving me bread because I can’t eat bread,’ he said.

“I actually quit being vegetarian to be able to eat edible food. It was all mistreatment from beginning to end.”

Mr Minns said people whose accounts had been garnished would have been contacted before the money was taken.

“I’ve been assured that they had been warned quite a few times, in fact, numerous times before the money is effectively garnished.”

A spokesman for Revenue NSW said in a statement it “always attempts communication with the customer to notify them” that an outstanding fee had not been paid.

“When checking in to a quarantine hotel, individuals were asked to provide contact details,” the statement said.

“They were given a written notice informing them of the requirement to pay quarantine fees. Revenue NSW used these details to pursue payment.”

SOURCE: ABCNEWS

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