House debates

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Statements by Members

COVID-19: State and Territory Border Closures

1:34 pm

Photo of Andrew HastieAndrew Hastie (Canning, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the member for Tangney, wrote an excellent opinion piece in the Perth Sunday Times. He argued that state borders have their place in dealing with COVID-19 insofar as they have slowed the spread of the virus, but that borders are only one part of the response to the coronavirus and that border closures should be proportionate to the health risks and based on clear health advice. His central point: they are no substitute for a strong public health response based on testing and tracing capabilities and strong social distancing principles. And I agree.

Border closures should also be the least permanent because of the cost to Australians' liberty. It is no small thing to deny an Australian citizen movement within Commonwealth borders. It should be done only in extremis.

Decisions of state often involve trade-offs, and those trade-offs have human costs. Many in WA have borne those costs this year: a father with cancer, three kids and no family in WA; a pregnant mother in hospital with complications and no family in WA; working parents trapped interstate, separated from their children; defence families wondering if they're going to see their sons or daughters in 2020. Many have applied for exemptions, and many have been denied. And, Member for Brand, your work on social media has created a lot of fear in the community—

Photo of Llew O'BrienLlew O'Brien (Wide Bay, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Canning will direct his comments through the chair.

Photo of Andrew HastieAndrew Hastie (Canning, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The national cabinet last week adopted a framework towards reopening by Christmas. I hope the WA Premier will honour the sacrifice of Western Australians this year and take the same posture. (Time expired)