The Commonwealth Government will withdraw from a legal challenge brought by Queensland businessman Clive Palmer against the closure of the Western Australian state border.
- The Federal Government had joined legal action brought by Clive Palmer
- It believed the WA Government’s position was “likely unconstitutional”
- The Commonwealth will now withdraw from its involvement in the case
The action was launched after Mr Palmer was denied entry into WA, with the Commonwealth supporting his position on the basis that it believed the hard border was likely unconstitutional.
After repeated calls by the State Government opposing the Commonwealth’s involvement in the case, Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote to WA Premier Mark McGowan informing him that the Commonwealth will take no further part in proceedings.
In his letter, dated August 1, Mr Morrison stated that he had “taken into account the changed state of the pandemic”, and noted the “high level of concern regarding public health in the Western Australian community”.
“I consider, on balance, that we must set aside the normal convention in these circumstances and not continue the Commonwealth’s participation in this case,” Mr Morrison wrote.
In a statement, Mr McGowan confirmed he had received the letter and welcomed the withdrawal, but expressed concern it had come too late.
“On behalf of Western Australia, the Federal Government’s decision to withdraw their support for Clive Palmer’s action is welcomed,” Mr McGowan said.
Commonwealth maintains WA border is ‘likely unconstitutional’
The Commonwealth participated in a hearing in the Federal Court this week, which aimed to determine the facts of the case before it goes to the High Court.
Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said on Friday that it would be highly unusual if the Commonwealth did not intervene in a constitutional matter.
But the Premier renewed calls for the Federal Government to let Mr Palmer “fight his own fights”.
In his letter notifying Mr McGowan of the Commonwealth’s withdrawal, the Prime Minister maintained his view that the border was likely unconstitutional.
However, Mr Morrison said that he acknowledged the COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne was concerning to West Australians.
“I do not wish to see these concerns further exacerbated in Western Australia.”
The Prime Minister stopped short of calling on Clive Palmer to withdraw his action and Mr McGowan said the State Government would have to carry on with the legal fight.
“Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop the High Court challenge,” Mr McGowan said.
“WA will continue to fight to keep our hard border in place and we will defend our position in the High Court.
“Our hard border is in place, and will stay in place, to protect the health and safety of all West Australians.”