West Australian Premier Mark McGowan says the state will not be “rushed” into reopening its borders, but the opposition says more travel exemptions should be granted for Christmas.
Scott Morrison revealed after a National Cabinet meeting on Friday that all states and territories, except WA, had agreed on a “reopening framework” by Christmas.
“Certainly seven out of the eight states and territories will be open, and that’ll be a great day for Australia. You never know, there might be eight,” the Prime Minister told reporters in Canberra.
But Mr McGowan continues to insist the decision on WA’s border will be made on the advice of the state’s chief health officer.
“The Prime Minister acknowledged WA’s special circumstances, given we have had no local cases of COVID-19 for more than six months and our economy opened to a new normal level in late June,” Mr McGowan said in a statement.
“Making a rushed decision against health advice to meet an artificial deadline is not in the interest of all West Australians.”
Mr McGowan, whose parents live in NSW, said he understood the frustration of many people who wanted to visit family but said WA would continue to take a cautious approach.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely, but we will only change our border arrangements when the health advice says it is safe to do so,” he said.
“We have come so far, and unlike other states, life in WA has virtually returned to normal.”
Opposition leader Liza Harvey said she was not calling for the border to come down, but she would like to see more travel exemptions granted for Christmas.
Ms Harvey said there were some FIFO families who had been separated for seven months.
“This offers no pathway for hope for them, no optimism that they might be able to come home for Christmas,” she told reporters.
“I think we need to find a compassionate and safe way to bring all of our West Australian home and try to unite our families again.
“There has to be a safe, compassionate way to allow families to reunite across the border in time for Christmas.”
Ms Harvey also suggested the international cap on arrivals should be increased.
WA recorded six new cases of coronavirus overnight – all men aged between 26 and 54 who were returned overseas travellers.
Five are in hotel quarantine and one is in hospital.
Two further crew on the virus-stricken Al Messilah livestock ship who became symptomatic were taken off the vessel overnight and are in hotel quarantine.
One of the ship’s cases remains in hospital and there are 14 crew onboard, the WA Health Department says.
Eight crew from the Key Integrity remain in hotel quarantine, with two confirmed cases and six close contacts.
A further 12 crew remain onboard as essential crew.
WA’s total confirmed cases now stands at 753, including 52 active cases.