20/05/2020 - 16:02

Premier defends WA’s closed border

20/05/2020 - 16:02

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Premier Mark McGowan has criticised a push by the NSW and federal governments for Western Australia to reopen interstate borders, citing the eastern states’ inconsistent health advice and high rates of community transmission.

Mark McGowan says Western Australia will not be bullied into reopening interstate borders. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Premier Mark McGowan has criticised a push by the NSW and federal governments for Western Australia to reopen interstate borders, citing the eastern states’ inconsistent health advice and high rates of community transmission.

Speaking at a press conference today, Mr McGowan said the decision to maintain WA’s hard border closure was in the best interests of Western Australians.

He said while NSW and Victoria continued to report new COVID-19 cases, WA had consistently reported zero or low rates of infection.

“Until we’re confident that the health of Western Australians can be protected from those people, the island within an island will stay in place,” Mr McGowan said.

“I expect (it will be) months before we bring down the hard border with the east.”

He said the state government would not be bullied by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who has claimed that keeping borders closed will delay a national economic recovery post COVID-19.

The premier said NSW was in no position to give WA advice on border closures, citing inconsistent health advice and mismanagement of the Ruby Princess cruise ship outbreak.

“It’s odd, NSW is saying ‘don’t catch public transport in Sydney’,” Mr McGowan said.

“They haven’t got the borders down within NSW, they’re restricting the number of people who can go to a café or restaurant far more than WA is, yet they’re saying ‘why can’t NSW people fly to WA?’ Their message is totally inconsistent.

“We’re not going to give in to that sort of bullying by the NSW premier or anyone else, we’re going to protect the health and economy of WA.

“NSW had the Ruby Princess. I mean, seriously? And they’re trying to give us advice on our borders?

“I’m not listening to them.”

Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly also said that, from a medical perspective, he saw no reason why Australia should maintain its closed borders.

But Mr McGowan said WA’s performance throughout the pandemic had been stellar by national and international standards.

His comments come as Health Minister Roger Cook reported no new coronavirus infections overnight, with the state’s total confirmed cases remaining static at 557.

Mr Cook, who today announced a new five-bed isolation room at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, said WA was in a delightful situation.

“We don’t need to necessarily have COVID-19 patients come into the hospital, but we are in the flu season (and) we will see high presentations of people with infectious diseases,” Mr Cook told reporters.

“This new facility will provide an extra capacity for the hospital to meet the needs of those patients.”

Speaking on the possibility of soon reopening regional borders, Mr Cook said any lifting of restrictions would need to occur gradually.

He noted the state government had already reduced its intrastate borders from 13 to just four.

"We loving having zero new cases results but we don't for a moment believe we'll eliminate the disease," Mr Cook said.

"WA will continue to live with COVID-19 for many more months.

"This is our new normal and it's important that we discover exactly what we can do as a community and as an economy, as part of living with COVID-19."

He said the state government would lift restrictions further as long as WA continued to experience little or no rates of new infection.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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