opinion

Editorial: How can Premier Mark McGowan say we’re STILL unprepared?

The West Australian
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WA Premier Mark McGowan has previously warned that the border reopening would only be delayed by an “unforeseen emergency”.
Camera IconWA Premier Mark McGowan has previously warned that the border reopening would only be delayed by an “unforeseen emergency”. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

And so after weeks of anticipation, hope and much speculation we are virtually back to square one.

The border is not being opened on February 5 as we had been told would be the case.

When news broke that there would be a late media conference on Thursday, the writing was on the wall.

It was flagged that Premier Mark McGowan would appear alongside Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson.

Mr McGowan previously had said the only reason he would delay the border reopening was due to an “unforeseen emergency”, such as if the Omicron strain turned out to be more deadly.

The State Government introduced strict interstate travel controls on March 24, 2020, when arrivals were ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days.

On April 2, 2020, a hard border was imposed to stop travellers without a police exemption from entering WA.

And on Thursday we were handed a similar model to that which had been rolled out early in the crisis instead of the open border.

Mr McGowan said the Omicron variant had changed everything and hospital admissions and deaths had soared in the Eastern States.

He said it was clear that being double-dosed did not offer sufficient protection and the need for third doses of the COVID vaccine had become clear.

He said it would be “reckless and irresponsible” to open up the State to the arrival of plane loads and car loads of visitors from February 5 which would seed COVID into the community.

Nobody could have foreseen the impact of Omicron, he said.

As a result from February 5, the hard border’s settings would be upgraded to allow for new exemptions for interstate travellers.

These will include broad compassionate reasons and those who have “specialist skills”.

That Mr McGowan hasn’t been able to get us ready after two years is an abject failure of leadership.

All entrants will have to self-isolate for 14 days, be triple-dose vaccinated, and undertake a heavy testing regime. Mr McGowan said that the border rules would be reviewed “over the course of the next month”.

In what ever way Mr McGowan seeks to dress up the new policy, it smacks of waving a white flag.

Mr McGowan had more than 650 days to ready WA to reopen.

While The West was very much a supporter of the hard border policy when it was enacted, this was because it was meant to buy us time to prepare.

It now seems all the Premier’s team did was enjoy the isolation and do none of the hard work.

There will be many who are relieved that the border opening has been delayed because they are scared of a deadly virus.

But it’s wrong to see this relief as an endorsement of the Premier’s failure to prepare the community properly.

In fact, they’re entirely scared and worried because he isn’t prepared and can’t promise them when he will be.

If WA can’t be prepared to open after two years, an economic boom, a relatively healthy population that lives in mostly hot weather and with an urban sprawl that means there’s little human congestion . . . then who the hell can be prepared?

That Mr McGowan hasn’t been able to get us ready after two years is an abject failure of leadership.

Responsibility for the editorial comment is taken by WAN Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie

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