26 August 2020

SUBJECT: The Morrison’s government’s decision to side with Clive Palmer on WA’s border restrictions.



SUBJECT: The Morrison’s government’s decision to side with Clive Palmer on WA’s border restrictions.

MADELEINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE: In relation to Clive Palmer’s intention to smash the borders of Western Australia open for his own personal and political gain, yesterday we saw what every Western Australian knows -- the Federal Court confirmed that the government of Mark McGowan, his hard border that they have created in that state, is what is keeping Western Australians safe. Without the hard border created by the McGowan government, there may be catastrophic consequences for the health of all Western Australians. What the Federal Court also confirmed is that the damage is done. The Western Australian Liberals and this Liberal government have provided evidence in support of Clive Palmer and against the interests of all Western Australians and the health of Western Australians.

It is an outrageous thing for the Liberal government of this country to provide evidence against the health and wellbeing of Western Australians so they could follow their ideological pursuits of opening a border that the Federal Court has confirmed is keeping Western Australians healthy. All Western Australian Labor MPs and Senators in this place, in Canberra this week, support Mark McGowan and his government and the borders they have put in place to keep Western Australians safe.

What we need to know is: do the Western Australian Liberals and this Liberal government now accept the decision of the Federal Court that said yesterday these hard borders are what is preventing a COVID outbreak that could have catastrophic consequences for the health of Western Australians? And I might add, a COVID outbreak in Western Australia could have catastrophic consequences for the mining and resources industry of Western Australia that is keeping this country going. The Federal Court of Australia has confirmed that it is the hard border put in place by the Western Australian government led by Mark McGowan that is saving Western Australia from potentially catastrophic health consequences. And it is helping to protect the minerals and resources industry of Western Australia that is driving the recovery of this country from the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 coronavirus.

As I said before, it is now a question for the WA Liberals to answer and let the country know and let Western Australia know: do they support the decision of the Federal Court that has said it is these borders that is protecting Western Australia from these potentially catastrophic health consequences? As we know, they have gone out in support of Clive Palmer, they have provided evidence against the interests of Western Australians. The damage is done. The evidence is on the court record. That cannot be taken away. That evidence will go to the High Court, and will work in support of Clive Palmer to try and smash WA’s hard borders. So the WA Liberals need to ask themselves some tough questions on whether they want to stand for the interests of Western Australians and protect the hard border that is keeping Western Australians safe. Are there any questions?

JOURNALIST: Clive Palmer seems to always just be hanging around, doesn’t he? The papers over there have called him a pest and a Grinch and a few other interesting things. Is it time for him to butt out of federal politics?

KING: It would be a very good thing for the people of Western Australia and for all Australians if Clive Palmer butted out of the political scene. It would be a good thing if he dropped this case against Western Australia, if he dropped his constitutional case which he is only running for his own personal and political gain. It is time for Clive Palmer to take a back seat, he can enjoy his property rights that he has over the mineral deposits - surely that's enough in this world. In the meantime, I hope he does butt out. But more importantly, I hope he withdraws his case against the State of Western Australia.

JOURNALIST: Keeping in mind your points about the health benefits that have been created by the hard border closure, would you like to see Western Australia open up a bit more to interstate tourism, or open up parts of the economy for entertainment reasons? What are your thoughts around that, how long can that hard border stay in place?

KING: There is no doubt the hard border has severe consequences on many businesses. We all know this, and all of us feel for those small businesses, large businesses, employees that are suffering because of the hard borders, The priority is health. As the Federal Court said, there could be catastrophic consequences for the health of Western Australians should the hard border come down. No one wants this to go forever, we don't want COVID to go forever, we don’t want the border restrictions to go forever. But they will remain and I support the McGowan government in making sure they are strong while it is needed to keep that state healthy so that the large business that is the mining and resources industry can continue, but more importantly for the health of ordinary Western Australians.

JOURNALIST: Just one last one. The Prime Minister keeps talking about we have to learn to live with the virus, we can’t keep economies closed and businesses closed, that sort of thing. Is there some case for the Western Australian government to maybe go a little bit back along on the spectrum, back towards what NSW and Queensland are doing, keeping the health aspect very in check, but also opening up entertainment industries and concerts and tourism and that sort of thing?

KING: I have no doubt that the McGowan government is considering this every time they meet to discuss the potential of opening up the borders, as well as other activities in Western Australia. As you may know, we've been able to hold large gatherings of the AFL football and other things so Western Australians are generally leading – which is very lucky for them, and for me – an ordinary life in times of COVID, which is very different from our friends and family in Victoria who are suffering at the moment. But I'm sure they consider it. It has to be done week in week out depending on what is happening in the rest of the country. And I think the rest of the country understands that. It is important for each state to make its decisions based on the health advice it gets and based on the matters that are occurring in those other states. We all want the economy to open up, we sure do. There's no doubt about that. But health and the health-led recovery from this virus has to be the priority. And these things that the Prime Minister said, it beggars belief why they are not dealt through this national cabinet rather than through the court system. So we have a national cabinet that he crows about and praises, and it's a great thing that it's in place. Yet the federal Commonwealth government provides evidence against the State of Western Australia in a Federal Court case to open up the borders. Now that's not really a collaborative approach to the health and safety of all Australians, and I think we really need to think what the Government wants to achieve in the national cabinet and actually achieve something instead of just fighting and bickering and making it a partisan issue. Thank you very much.