The Queensland government has called in private debt collectors to claw back unpaid hotel quarantine bills worth millions of dollars.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she owes it to taxpayers to pursue people who have not paid for time spent in government-ordered quarantine.
Most travellers have been required to pay for their own hotel quarantine since the middle of last year but only about half have paid up.
Figures from the beginning of this month show that only 44 per cent of invoices worth $87.7 million have been paid in part or full.
Of all invoices issued, 18.4 per cent are overdue, and 9.7 per cent are significantly overdue.
These oldest outstanding amounts are the ones in the sights of debt collectors.
"We need to recoup that money. It's taxpayers money," the premier told reporters on Wednesday.
Queensland Health said that until recently, it had chosen not to use debt recovery options.
"But given the financial burden on taxpayers, this has now become necessary," the department said in a statement.
"Queensland Health will begin engaging a private debt collector to manage significantly overdue invoices in the coming weeks."
Travellers who have started a repayment plan or who have a fee-waiver request pending will not be referred to debt collectors.
Australian Associated Press