Decision Looms on Reopening WA Borders

Decision Looms on Reopening WA Borders
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan speaks during a media conference at Dumas House in Perth, Australia on Sept. 4, 2020. (Matt Jelonek/Getty Images)

West Australians may finally be about to receive clarity on the state’s hard border closures, with senior government leaders to consider updated health advice.

The state disaster council, chaired by Premier Mark McGowan, will meet on Oct 30 to discuss the advice which is yet to be publicly released.

It comes days after a new poll showed most West Australians wanted the premier to set a date for reopening state borders.

The poll, commissioned by Tourism Council WA, showed similarly strong support for opening to states with low or zero transmission of COVID-19.

Education Minister Sue Ellery, the government’s leader in the upper house, on Thursday said she was yet to see the latest advice but expected it would reflect the continued decline in virus case numbers in NSW and Victoria.

“The hard border policy has served us well,” she said.

“It’s been based on health advice and it has meant that our economy has been able to flourish at at time where other parts of the Australian economy have suffered real damage, and indeed around the world.

“We will consider that advice tomorrow. I’m not going to speculate on what is in it or what we decide.”

Every other state and territory has committed to reopening its borders by Christmas.

State and federal Liberal MPs and business groups have called for greater certainty on the borders reopening, while the tourism industry warned it has lost $2.4 billion since the state was closed to interstate travellers in early April.

Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer is meanwhile set to challenge the border closures in the High Court next week.

One new COVID-19 case was recorded on Thursday - a man in his 20s who returned from overseas and is in hotel quarantine.

WA has 49 active cases.

The infected Al-Messilah and Key Integrity ships will complete their quarantine periods next Thursday and should then be able to set sail, WA Health said.

Michael Ramsey in Perth