WA hard border closed for economic reasons, not health reasons
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann spoke from Canberra.
He said WA Premier Mark McGowan was keeping the state’s hard border closed for economic reasons rather than health reasons.
“The Prime Minister of Western Australia yesterday I believe for the first time, rather than pursuing a public health argument, essentially pursued a state economic protectionist argument for continued border closures states, ”Cormann said.
“He argued that Western Australians, who enjoy certain rights as Australian citizens under our Constitution, should be prevented from spending their money in South Australia or the Northern Territory for state protectionist reasons rather than for public health reasons.
“There is no doubt that this is because there is no apparent public health reason for why West Australians should be barred from freely engaging with South Australia and the Northern Territory. “
Mr Cormann said he was aware of “a number of people” who are stuck between states and that by keeping the border closed he was denying people their “usual freedoms”.
“Section 92 of the Constitution is pretty self-explanatory. It is the foundation of the Federation, of the Commonwealth of Australia. And that is, the commerce and movement of people across the borders of the State must be “absolutely free”.
“If the Prime Minister now says he is no longer looking to keep tight border closures in place for public health reasons, but rather because he wants to prevent Western Australians from exercising their rights and freedoms to spend freely their money in jurisdictions that are completely safe against COVID, so I think he needs to explain how that is compatible with the protections all Australians enjoy under our Constitution.
“If there’s a public health reason for it, you know, it can be justified. But where there is no public health reason, then the usual freedoms we enjoy as Australians should prevail.
“This is why we have an Australian Constitution and when the states came together to form the Commonwealth of Australia.”