17/03/2022 - 16:05

Premier changed my mind on border, PM says

17/03/2022 - 16:05

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Scott Morrison says it was Mark McGowan who convinced him to back down in the battle over the state’s borders.

Premier changed my mind on border, PM says
Scott Morrison in Victoria Park today. Photo: David Henry

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it was Premier Mark McGowan who convinced him to back down in the battle over the state’s borders.

Mr Morrison was speaking to journalists in Victoria Park this morning after revealing costs increasing on two major Perth City Deal projects, the Edith Cowan University CBD campus, and Swan River Bridge.

In 2020, the state government was one of numerous around the country which closed off interstate borders to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The tactic worked effectively, with the state having a much lower caseload and death toll than other jurisdictions.

The federal government, and state opposition, soon began calling for the border restrictions to come down.

That went as far as Mr Morrison’s government backing Clive Palmer's challenge over the borders in the High Court of Australia, which proved to be politically damaging in WA as a second wave of COVID-19 swept through Victoria.

Mr Morrison said he had learned a lesson early in the pandemic, and that all states have different experiences.

“And our decision, which was taken right at the start of the pandemic, followed the normal convention for engaging in any High Court action of that nature,” Mr Morrison said.

“The premier raised his concerns with me about that and, and we ultimately agreed with him, and that's why we withdrew.”

The government then reversed its position, Mr Morrison said.

“(T)hat was out of recognition for the very specific and appropriate pathway that Western Australia was on,” he said. 

“So I stand absolutely. 

“You're right to say, did the premier convince me to change my mind? 

“Yes, he did.”

But while the government had withdrawn from the court battle, there was still pressure on the state to reopen.

The Guardian reported in November 2021 that Mr Morrison had said WA's border was doing "more harm than good" after vaccinations passed an 80 per cent double dose rate.

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