Confusion about the future of Western Australia’s hard border is mounting. The health minister said it was time to consider reopening while the prime minister insists the state must remain closed to the rest of the nation.
- Andrew Robertson had claimed that WA could open up to most other states
- But he says Victoria’s outbreak will take up to two months to control
- Opposition says the public has been misled about WA Health Council
Less than an hour after Health Secretary Roger Cook said the state was “now in a position to consider what we do with our borders” and expressed willingness for WA to reopen to parts of the country, Prime Minister Mark McGowan released an update Health recommendations The state had to remain closed.
“My current view is that the (closed border) instructions should remain as they are currently promulgated, but should be reviewed in two weeks,” wrote Andy Robertson, Chief Health Officer, in a paper presented to Parliament by Mr McGowan Advice.
The McGowan administration believes there must be 28 consecutive days with the virus nowhere in the nation before the border can be opened. Opening it up to some states and not others would be unconstitutional.
Mr. McGowan said Dr. Robertson is clear.
“The written advice and oral advice from the Chief Health Officer indicate that at this point the border with all states and territories must remain in place,” said McGowan.
“That is the confirmed position of the Chief Health Officer, and if you want to question this, it means you are questioning his integrity.”
However, at a previous business breakfast, Mr Cook advocated the prospect of easing border rules to reopen them to some states, while continuing to advocate for jurisdictions with continued proliferation in the community.
“We need to consider the situation now,” said Cook.
“We are now in a position to consider what we are going to do with our limits in the short and medium term and what we are going to do with this opening process.
“There is public health advice that says the situation in Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia is now essentially stable. You have no spread of the disease in the community. We should therefore consider how we can open ourselves to the free movement of people between these states. “
But Mr Cook warned WA that he must have confidence in these states’ border rules before opening.
On Wednesday, Dr. Robertson informed the committee that WA could open its border to most states in the country, as they already met health requirements and had their own “generally” satisfactory border controls.
Later, during Question Time in Parliament, Mr McGowan was asked why the Minister of Health’s comments were different from the advice presented on Thursday.
“Of course we will consider in the future which course is appropriate for Western Australia,” said McGowan.
“This is not an unreasonable position.”
Government “Cherry Harvest” Council Says Opposition
The WA opposition launched a devastating attack on Prime Minister Mark McGowan, accusing him of misleading the public about the health advice.
Liberal leader Liza Harvey claimed that Dr. Robertson’s evidence on Wednesday showed that the government was “cherry picking” on the “Political Advantage” council.
“If you had tabled the council from the start, none of this would have happened as everyone in the community would know that a number of options are available,” she told Parliament.
“Options that you ignored because you wanted the politically popular option and the border closings are politically popular but not based on the chief officer’s health advice. And you have said that to people repeatedly. “
Ms. Harvey said the prime minister “wallowed in self-adulation” but should apologize to the WA people.
“This goes to the core of your integrity and character,” she said.
Companies suffer from border uncertainty: CCI
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry hit the mixed news, saying it made things difficult for business.
“The time is behind us when we need clear and reliable advice in the future,” said the chief economist of the Chamber of Commerce, Aaron Morey.
“The more uncertain and contradicting the advice, the worse it is for the WA business world.”
Mr McGowan said the hard line was a key factor in recent WA unemployment, which showed a decline in the unemployment rate.
WA’s 6.7 percent unemployment rate is as low among Australian states as Victoria.
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