WA Premier Mark McGowan says he will not put a timeframe on reopening the state’s border, an issue expected to dominate the meeting of the National Cabinet tomorrow following a call by Prime Minister Scott Morrison for the states to “make Australia whole again”.
- State borders will be discussed at tomorrow’s National Cabinet meeting
- The PM is trying to get states to agree on a definition of a COVID-19 “hotspot”
- Travel bans could then apply to outbreaks areas, rather than states as a whole
It is understood the Prime Minister initiated a phone conversation with the Premier this morning which included a discussion about the border.
But the ABC understands he did not ask Mr McGowan to remove WA’s border, because the Federal Government now viewed WA in a different context to the eastern states.
“We’re not setting any timetables,” Mr McGowan said.
“Along this road lots of people, lots of people have tried … to set a date, and every time you set a date or you try to set a date, the date moves, because COVID is unpredictable.
“We are not going to agree to bring down the borders, I’ve made that plain to the Prime Minister, we’re not going to agree.
“And what we’ve seen other states do is chop and change along the road.
“South Australia, Queensland, they’ve changed measures, backwards and forwards, front and back, they’ve gone borders, hotspots, no borders and they always cause enormous disruption by doing so.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison had earlier called for interstate borders to be brought down by Christmas, arguing Victoria had “turned a corner” on the rates of infection.
Today he told Question Time in Parliament that he wanted a roadmap to reopen the borders.
“We need to come together, we need to ensure that we are clear with Australians, that we will seek to make Australia whole again by Christmas this year,” the Prime Minister said.
WA’s acting Police Commissioner Gary Dreibergs said while he hoped the border would reopen by Christmas, it would ultimately depend on health advice.
“We would hope it would be open before Christmas, but you just don’t know.”
Nationally agreed ‘hotspot’ definition sought
Mr McGowan said he had not received final advice on whether to sign on to a national definition of a hotspot, but this would not be as effective as borders at protecting the state.
“If you have a hotspot you basically have a set of postcodes in another city, in say Sydney or Melbourne in which people can’t come and then you rely upon no-one else in Melbourne or Sydney having gone through that hotspot,” he said.
“It’s a very difficult system to administer and it’s very unreliable.”
‘Stay where you are’: Police warning to AFL fans
Mr Dreibergs also urged AFL fans to forget about travelling east for the finals because it was highly likely they would not be allowed to return.
The AFL has confirmed the grand final would be held in Brisbane, and that West Coast was unlikely to host any finals beyond week one.
He said while the restrictions would be reviewed before the grand final date of October 24, any relaxation was dependent on infection rates in the rest of the country.
“West Australians are not allowed to leave the state for social reasons, I can tell you that, and expect to return because that’s what our hard border is about,” he said.
“Effectively my advice to people is, if there’s a COVID-infected state, and you’re in a non-COVID infected state, stay where you are.”