Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Defence Minister Peter Dutton have asked the Western Australian Premier Mark McGown to please “explain” his decisions following the announcement that WA’s border will remain closed 16 days prior to the original open date of Feb. 5.
Frydenberg said on Friday that many Western Australians will be questioning this decision made by the WA premier.
“Many people in Western Australia will be disappointed with the decision,” Frydenberg said on Channel Seven’s breakfast Sunrise program.
“This is a decision that the Western Australian government themselves have taken and one for them to explain,” he said.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton echoed Frydenberg saying that he understands the great sense of disappointment for Western Australians and that the WA premier will have to explain to his decisions.
“As Western Australians have pointed out; if not now, when?”
“The premier’s outlined some of that plan, no doubt he’ll have more say today, but when people have been working to their timeline that’s been announced by the premier, you can understand why West Australians have the view that they do. So, I think there’ll be a lot of that sentiment coming out today,” Dutton said on Sunrise.
Frydenberg stated that although the Omicron variant has increased transmissibility, it is also less severe.
He said that it was important to return to a normalised setting with the pandemic expected to be around for a while.
“The key here is that we need to learn to live with the virus because the virus could be with us for some time to come.”
WA had initially planned to ease international and interstate travel restrictions from Feb. 5 for the vaccinated after 90 percent of the state’s 12 and overpopulation received two doses of a vaccine. But the reopening has now been suspended indefinitely pending further review in February.
Feb. 5 will instead see travel exemptions into WA broadened to allow returning West Australians and those seeking to attend funerals, palliative care, or on other compassionate grounds.
International travellers that fit the travel requirements will also need to quarantine for 14 days.
McGowan indicated that the review would reassess the levels of third dose vaccination amongst 16-and-overs, which currently sits at around 26 percent, and that while a specific target had not been set, the aim was to get third dose rates “up above 80 percent, perhaps 90 percent.”
Meanwhile, Australian Medical Association President, Omar Khorshid expressed on Twitter that he was “gutted” at WA’s border changes.
“Seems WA Premier is a one-trick pony when it comes to COVID-19. Hard border with the rest of the country and world remains despite almost 90% vacced,” he wrote in a post on his Twitter page.
He expressed that relaxations on basis of “compassionate border arrangements” were long overdue.
“Omicron is here already and it will cause a significant outbreak in WA soon enough. Sticking our heads in the sand won’t make it go away. Let’s prepare!”
Gutted…. Seems WA Premier @MarkMcGowanMP is a one trick pony when it comes to #COVID19. Hard border with the rest of the country and world remains despite almost 90% vacced. Many of us both shocked/disappointed and relieved at the same time.
— AMA President (@amapresident) January 20, 2022
Zoe Hyde, an epidemiologist and research fellow from the University of Western Australia, however, voiced her support for the WA premier’s decision, posting on Twitter that the decision made by McGowan “will save lives, protect freedom, keep schools open, and keep the economy strong.”