West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has taken a swipe at Sydney commentators who have criticised his hard border stance, describing them as latte sippers with no clue about the state’s economy.
The Premier said the commentators needed to “learn a little bit” about WA.
“I think it shows a grievous and shocking misunderstanding of WA,” he told reporters on Friday.
“I think some of the commentators might hang out on the north shore of Sydney, drinking their lattes and sipping their pinot grigio.
“I don’t think they have any clue about what goes on here, about our economy, about the jobs and about how we support them.”
Speaking after the national cabinet meeting, Mr McGowan reaffirmed WA would not agree to a hotspot plan that would replace WA’s successful border controls.
He also reiterated he would not set an arbitrary date to reopen the borders and would wait until the health authorities gave that advice.
“Opening and closing borders just causes more confusion and it isn’t a good outcome for the state’s economy,” Mr McGowan said.
The Premier said WA made a significant contribution to the national economy through the mining sector and international exports, describing the state as the “engine room of the national economy”.
“Prematurely reopening the states borders will risk both the state and national economies,” he said.
Tasmania is also isolated, but they have a “very, very small and much more fragile economy” than WA, he added.
“I’m not surprised really that WA has gone alone. We’ve forged our own pathway along this COVID route … I intend to continue on the pathway … caution has worked,” he said.
Mr McGowan also said Prime Minister Scott Morrison was welcome to come to WA without needing to quarantine, provided he did not mingle closely with people.
“I’d be more than happy to show him around,” the premier said.
Earlier, Mr Morrison said WA had a different border and economy to most other states and territories, and had no large border towns.
“Western Australia has set out some very specific circumstances in their state as to why they won’t be joining that aspiration (to open borders) at this time,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
“That said, they wish us well, and they will participate in that process, where they’ve got things they believe that they can offer, and I believe there are many things they can offer in that process.”
WA has two active cases in hotel quarantine from interstate. There has been no community spread for more than 140 days.
“This gives us the confidence here in WA, as an island within an island, to stay safe and drive more economic activity,” Mr McGowan said.
There are 1837 people in quarantine at seven hotels, with 19 people deemed “high risk” in high security hotels.
Mr McGowan said police had conducted 39,000 physical checks on people doing 14 days of self-isolation on top of other compliance checks.
“This is obviously a time-consuming task,” he said.
Mr McGowan described the virus as tricky and deadly, saying WA must be vigilant and avoid complacency.
He added that the Victorian outbreak had been sad and tragic.
“Too many lives have been lost,” he said.