MORRISON’S WA BORDER DECEIT EXPOSED

07 August 2020

An explosive hearing in the Federal Court today has exposed the Morrison Government’s disgraceful and deceitful conduct in its attempt to undermine Western Australia’s border laws in support of Clive Palmer’s challenge.

Last week, Attorney-General Christian Porter and the Morrison Government threw the entire weight of the Commonwealth’s legal resources behind Clive Palmer’s attack on Western Australia’s border laws.

They sent the Commonwealth Solicitor-General, backed by the Australian Government Solicitor, to intervene in support of Clive Palmer’s challenge, and over three days called multiple witnesses, vigorously cross-examined Western Australia’s public health experts and produced evidence designed to damage Western Australia, and force open the state’s borders

It was clear to Mr Morrison and Mr Porter that Mr Palmer had mounted a very weak case, and so they rode to the rescue of the billionaire with a team of taxpayer-funded Commonwealth lawyers instructed to do whatever they could to help Mr Palmer force open the state’s borders, against the interests of West Australians.

After outrage from the people of Western Australia, the Prime Minister and his Attorney-General sniffed the political wind and did a total backflip.

But the damage has already been done, and despite saying the Commonwealth is now backing Western Australia, the evidence today has exposed that claim as a lie.

As Federal Court Justice Darryl Rangiah told Western Australian Solicitor-General Joshua Thomson in court this morning “I don't think there's any real doubt about that side of the equation, that you're at a disadvantage by reason of the conduct of the Commonwealth.”

Mr Thomson told the court that the Commonwealth’s claim to have reversed its position “does not remove the existence of the expert evidence which is before the court”. In other words, the Commonwealth’s can’t undo the damage it has done by saying, in effect, the court should forget everything we did, said and argued last week.

Justice Rangiah was also scathing of the Commonwealth conduct in telling the media about its backflip, but then waiting days before advising the court.

JUSTICE RANGIAH: is it more important to notify the media of the withdrawal than this court? …. The matter could have been immediately listed for the Monday. I regard it as extremely discourteous to this court to have to be informed through the media about the Commonwealth’s intentions, particularly after the court was urged repeatedly by the Commonwealth to decide this matter urgently. The Commonwealth did then not proceed with the urgency upon which it urged the court.

And the debacle doesn’t end there, with the Commonwealth now admitting that taxpayers will have to pick up the expensive legal bill for this farce.

Labor repeatedly called on the Morrison Government to withdraw from the case before hearings began.

Instead, the Commonwealth spent days in the Federal Court supporting Clive Palmer at taxpayers’ expense, fighting against the best interests of the people of Western Australia.

Why are the WA Liberals siding with Palmer instead of standing up for Western Australia?

Today’s evidence has exposed the Prime Minister’s claims to have backflipped and to now be siding with Western Australia to be a massive con trick.

Not only did the Commonwealth’s withdrawal come far too late, after the damage had already been done, the Morrison Government is now refusing to act to undo the damage.

This Liberal government says one thing and does another.

The people of WA will not forget this.