The ACT government was left blindsided by a deal between the Australian National University and the federal government to quarantine returning G7 travellers.
Despite the deal, ACT health authorities will not commit to allowing international students to quarantine at the campus, which they previously deemed unsuitable.
Members of the Prime Minister's travelling party returning from the G7 summit, including officials and journalists, will quarantine at the ANU for the next two weeks.
About 40 people will stay at the university's Davey Lodge, while some members of the party, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will be able to quarantine at home.
The plane touched down on Thursday night and all travellers are fully vaccinated.
But the ACT government only found out about the deal 10 days ago, when representatives from the Commonwealth got in touch. The federal government and the ANU had already arranged the deal.
"The Commonwealth government informed the ACT government that they had contacted the ANU directly to arrange this accommodation around 10 days ago," an ACT government spokeswoman said.
If the quarantine at the university is successful, it would provide a boost to the administration's push to be allowed to have international students quarantine on site and return to their studies.
ACT health officials have previously deemed the accommodation unsuitable. In a review into Davey Lodge, there were concerns around the lack of balconies and kitchen and laundry facilities in rooms.
The territory government said the halls of residence did not meet the ACT's quarantine accommodation standards and the standards identified by the National Review of Hotel Quarantine, delivered in October 2020.
The ACT government did not directly answer a question on Thursday on whether it would reconsider its position, only that feedback would be given to the federal government.
"The ACT government is happy to share feedback and findings from this quarantine period to the Commonwealth government," the spokeswoman said.
ACT Health said the rooms at Davey Lodge had no air conditioning, did not share ventilation and the risk of issues related to airflow are low. The ACT government's standards are higher than other states and territories.
Australia has had more than 20 leaks of COVID-19 from hotel quarantine since the program started more than a year ago. In recent times these breaches have been linked to hotels with a lack of ventilation.
While the ACT government was not initially consulted on the decision, territory health authorities will provide support services to the returned group.
"The Commonwealth's intention was for these travellers to quarantine in the ACT. Given this, the ACT government worked with the Commonwealth government and the ANU to allow the returning travellers to quarantine safely," the spokeswoman said.
Previously when the ACT accepted repatriation flights of returned Australians, they were quarantined at the Pacific Suites Hotel in Braddon.
Since the ACT stopped accepting repatriation flights, that facility returned to accepting regular guests, meaning it was not available for travellers this time.
The ANU had previously offered to cover the cost of quarantining its overseas students on campus, while charging other returned travellers for the service.
An ANU spokesman said the university had provided a facility for students to self-isolate on their campus since the initial outbreak of COVID-19.
"ANU has already safely operated on-campus quarantine," the spokesman said.
"We stand ready to do so again."
ANU politics, philosophy and economics student Lawrence De Pellegrini said it was good the building was being used for quarantine and it would be good if students could also do the same.
"I think its important that international students are allowed to come back onto campus ... I think it would be good in the long term for international students or domestic students that need to quarantine to use those facilities."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: