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‘Caught out’: McGowan’s claims about hard border contradicted by Chief Health Officer

Dr Robertson also revealed the state government’s ‘all-or-nothing’ approach to reopening the border was not based on health advice, despite Premier McGowan regularly claiming it was.

Asked by a journalist on October 1 where the ‘all-or-nothing’ approach came from, Mr McGowan said: “It’s medical advice, it’s confirmed by the Federal Court that heard all the evidence, it’s the advice of the Chief Health Officer.”

Yet in July, Mr McGowan told reporters the approach was based on legal advice.

“To pick and choose between the states we’ve been advised is constitutionally unlawful”, he said.

The Premier’s office has since refused to clarify whether the legal advice, originally provided by the State Solicitor’s Office, had changed.

Every other Australian jurisdiction, except Tasmania and Victoria, has their borders open to selected states only.

WA Liberals health spokesman Zak Kirkup.

WA Liberals health spokesman Zak Kirkup.Credit:Lauren Pilat

Mr Kirkup said the revelations at the inquiry proved Mr McGowan’s decision to keep the border closed was motivated by politics and popularity.

“I think what’s happened today is the Premier’s been caught out by his Chief Health Officer,” he said.

“It’s been made abundantly clear that the border arrangements that have been put in place in Western Australia haven’t been based on the health advice but have in fact been a political decision that’s been made by the Premier and the government here today.

“I was astounded, every West Australian would be very shocked and surprised to learn that the Chief Health Officer has suggested that West Australians could now travel to South Australia, the Northern Territory, Tasmania, the ACT and Queensland, but it’s evidently the decision of the government to stop that border arrangement being put in place.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan.

WA Premier Mark McGowan.Credit:Getty

Mr McGowan has repeatedly said the public health advice was to keep WA’s border closed until the virus was eliminated across the country, which is represented by 28 days without a mystery case.

Dr Robertson said he believed it was still possible Victoria could reach that milestone within two months, despite Victorian Premier Dan Andrews on Tuesday saying reaching zero cases could be unachievable.

Dr Robertson said WA’s susceptibility to the virus – due to its freedoms – as well as other state’s border arrangements needed to be considered when reviewing the border arrangements.

“We’re generally satisfied with border arrangements, many of them in fact duplicate ours if you look at states like Queensland and Tasmania,” he said.

“South Australia is probably more open, the Northern Territory tends to use a hotspot model but their border restrictions are not dissimilar to ours but they do vary and a number of the states are changing their border measures over the next coming weeks so we’ll need factor that in to our consideration as well.”

Most Australian states have agreed to move to a national border model by Christmas, which will be centred around the federally-defined hotspot model which would prohibit travel from areas with COVID-19 cases.

WA has opted out of the move.

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