WA Premier Mark McGowan has again defended his strict border policy, after his New South Wales counterpart labelled internal border closures “embarrassing” and the Prime Minister said a new approach was needed in 2021.
- The Prime Minister said COVID-19 could eventually be treated as a “bad flu”
- The NSW Premier labelled internal border closures “embarrassing”
- Mark McGowan said he was not considering changes to the policy
Speaking at an Australian Financial Review (AFR) business summit on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said COVID-19 could eventually be treated like a bad flu, once the population was sufficiently vaccinated.
Mr Morrison also said state premiers would need to better justify future border closures as the health threat eased.
“The parameters for the decisions that premiers are making this year are different from last year and the justifications for actions will need to be different.
“It’s important that all premiers, chief ministers, prime ministers, make decisions that are very commensurate with the new risk framework that we are facing this year, which is different to last year.
“For that reason, I expect the decisions made this year should be different to last year.”
No border changes: McGowan
Mr McGowan said he did not believe the coronavirus could be treated like a bad flu, and he was not considering changes to the state’s border controls.
“I just think it is too early to speculate about these things,” he said.
“Let’s just roll out the vaccine. Let’s be cautious and precautionary.
“You never know when there is [going to be] another pandemic.
“I don’t understand why there is always this sort of argument, particularly from the Liberal party, to undermine what works.
“Why do they want to tear it down? It has worked so well.”
NSW Premier says border closures ’embarrassing’
Mr McGowan last week announced Victoria was on track to become a “very low risk” state on March 15, under Western Australia’s COVID-19 controlled border policy.
Pending no changes before that date, it will be the first time since that start of the pandemic that all states and territories have been considered “very low risk” by the WA government, meaning people can visit WA from anywhere in Australia without the need to self-quarantine.
The state’s health department is reviewing the current policy of waiting for 28 days of no community transmission before deeming other states and territories as “very low risk”.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the AFR business summit state border closures had been an “embarrassment” and were no longer necessary.
“There was and is absolutely no reason for closing internal borders within Australia,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“At the end of three weeks’ vaccination, [when] all the high-risk people have been vaccinated, the risk is massively diminished.
“There is no reason why internal borders should even be an issue. I think it is an embarrassment.
“There is no excuse whatsoever for internal borders. There should be some national consistency to give business confidence.”
WA Liberal leader Zak Kirkup said he would continue to back the advice of WA’s Chief Health Officer.
“We would take the advice of the Chief Health Officer in relation to how we manage our own borders,” he said.
“We support the Chief Health Officer here in Western Australia who has helped keep us safe.”