BARNABY Joyce has grand slammed the Australian Open as more tennis players are forced into hotel quarantine.
The Member for New England said the risk the competition poses is not worth the reward with Australians still stranded overseas because of the pandemic.
And, he's hopeful the New England region could play a role in helping those people come home.
"Our economy cannot afford any dramatic falls from where it is; even beyond epidemiological reasons in that we don't want people to get the virus, beyond that is our economy has to get up and running again," he said.
"There is a risk if it breaks out, people say that it won't, but ultimately if it does and we get the UK strain we could be back to square one."
The UK strain has been labelled highly-contagious by health officials.
The Australian Open is set to go ahead on February 8, but already 72 players and dozens of staff have been forced into hotel quarantine after a third Melbourne charter flight was linked to a positive COVID-19 case.
Mr Joyce said the Australian Open was not "essential" and that Australians stuck overseas should come first.
"Those people should be first and foremost to make sure people get home to see family, or dying relatives, or just get back to work," he said.
The former BAE Systems flight-training school at Tamworth airport has been empty since the company left due to economic impacts of COVID-19.
Mr Joyce suggested it could become a quarantine station for stranded Australians who want to come home.
"With the proper protections and oversights we could fly them into Tamworth just like we did with the Warriors [NRL team]," he said.
"They would have to stay at the flight training school and not go into town, stay there for two weeks and walk across the tarmac and back out again.
"I just think Tamworth could play a part, Sydney does it and this could help us maintain that facility until it opens as a flight training school again."
The country is just weeks away from the rollout of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, which caused concern after 30 people in Norway died after receiving a dose.
"I personally will, but I don't want to be part of enforcing it on others," he said.
"People are concerned about the overreach of the state in telling them what they can and can't do, people don't want to be bullied into positions.
"There is a crossover between personal liberty and community protection against the virus, people get their backs up if you start asking beyond what they think is reasonable and once you lose community support - you lose the fight."