The federal government has been slammed by the top business people who own thousands of empty accommodation units which they say are ready and free to quarantine incoming overseas students, whose return would put life back into one of Australia's biggest earners of foreign currency.
"Scott Morrison seems to think that hotels are the only solution," Craig Carracher, the founder and chairman of Scape Australia, the country's biggest owner of student accommodation, said.
"His thinking has quarantined him from other solutions."
On Friday, Mr Morrison ruled out letting overseas students back into the country, despite the financial crisis their absence has caused Australia's universities.
"The challenges we have in getting Australians home mean the ability to move and take international students back at this time through quarantine arrangements does not present itself," he said.
Mr Morrison indicated that there simply wasn't the hotel space to deal with students. "It's Australians coming home first," he said.
"I'm just very frustrated," said Mr Carracher, whose company owns 18,000 student units around the world (and 14,000 in Australia).
He felt that the government's view that only hotels could be used to quarantine was wrong-headed. They might be fine for incoming tourists or returning Australians, but not for students, he said.
"Scape can offer almost 4000 self-contained studios across seven buildings suitable for international students almost immediately, and together with the industry this number could grow to as much as 10,000 rooms," Mr Carracher said.
The purpose-built units are ideal to quarantine overseas students because they are self-contained, with a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom plus the ability to support students and make sure quarantine meant isolation, he said.
He thought Mr Morrison was putting politics first. In his view, the Prime Minister would be "embarrassed" if foreign students returned before Australians.
"He's putting the politics ahead of stimulating the economy. He needs to take his blinkers off," Mr Carracher told The Canberra Times.
Others in the industry share his dismay.
It's very hard to get any kind of national sense of what needs to be done, according to Tomas Johnsson, chief executive of Unilodge, which runs more than 70 student accommodation buildings across Australia and New Zealand, including in Canberra.
Policy is being run by states and territories so "it's not very clear to the policymakers what the overall picture is," he said. He has approached the Prime Minister's office to try to get clarity.
He reckoned there were between 6000 and 10,000 beds and units available for quarantining incoming students.
Mr Carracher said that he and his company were the first in Australia to recognise the crisis which was heading towards Australia. They formed their "coronavirus task force" on January 25.