11/08/2021 - 13:43

The world is getting on: Forrest

11/08/2021 - 13:43


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Minderoo Foundation co-chair Nicola Forrest says Western Australia can’t live in fear of COVID-19 and needs to find a way to move forward.

Nicola Forrest spoke at a Business News breakfast this morning. Photo: Matt Jelonek

Minderoo Foundation co-chair Nicola Forrest says Western Australia can’t live in fear of COVID-19 and needs to find a way to move forward.

At a Business News Success and Leadership breakfast this morning, Mrs Forrest said a business trip she had taken in June with her husband, Andrew, had been an eye-opening experience to how the rest of the world was living with COVID-19.

Mrs Forrest said the rest of the world was taking the necessary health precautions and getting on with business.

She said while people in WA were lucky to be here with many freedoms, we were living in a bubble.

Tattarang, a holding company for Mr and Mrs Forrest's private businesses, was struggling to relocate a chef they wanted to hire, she said.

“I do think that it’s a little bit crazy [to not let the chef in], quarantine is quarantine for a reason,” Mrs Forrest said.

“We can’t live in fear, we have to move on.”

Similar sentiments have been echoed in the business community.

At Mineral Resources’ investor meeting this morning, managing director Chris Ellison also urged governments to find a path forward.

He commended the WA government for its success in managing COVID-19 and keeping the WA economy open.

However, the company has also been adversely affected by COVID travel restrictions, with a shortage of truck drivers constraining its iron ore shipments.

"But the key thing that we’ve got to do is we’ve got to be able to get fresh people into Australia and we’re trying to work through that in the mining industry through the CME [Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA] to see if we can get something happening around quarantine facilities," Mr Ellison said today. 

"So we’re going to need 30,000 to 40,000 people over the next two to three years in the mining industry in WA alone, so we’ve just simply got to figure out a way of being able to safely bring people into WA."

Other WA business leaders have been unable to return to WA from NSW.

Faster Horses Perth managing director Veronica Mayne flew to Sydney two months ago on June 8 for business for a week and has not been allowed back since.

After being identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case, Ms Mayne completed two weeks of quarantine and tested negative to all tests.

She has applied to travel back to Perth as a returning resident six times since leaving quarantine and had her G2G pass refused five times.

“I didn’t think for a moment that McGowan would not allow WA residents to come back home,” Ms Mayne told Business News.

Ms Mayne said she was concerned for her four staff who were operating her market research business without her.

Faster Horses regularly runs face-to-face focus groups which she cannot lead from Sydney.  

“My staff in Perth are stretched to the limit,” she said.

She also has two adult children living with her at home and said being stuck over east and not being able to get back was impacting her mental health.

On July 13, the WA state government said residents wanting to enter from NSW were not guaranteed right of entry and needed to demonstrate extenuating circumstances.

At a press conference this morning, Premier Mark McGowan said he could count the number of people returning to WA from NSW and Queensland on his fingers.

He said mainly defence officers, government officials and members of parliament were being granted exemptions to re-enter the state. 

"The reality is we are trying to avoid COVID coming to WA so therefore we have borders with the east," Mr McGowan said. 

"We have international borders.

"It is far better to be in our position than the position NSW is in." 


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