Dr ALY: Over the last few days, Western Australians have witnessed an out-of-touch billionaire suffer a huge defeat and spit the dummy. And no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump. I'm talking about another businessman who tried his hand at politics: Clive Palmer. Last week, the High Court made its ruling and rejected his bid to have WA's border closure ruled invalid. And he was ordered to pay costs, which are estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Let's hope he pays them!
I think Clive is actually very lucky that this was the result. If he had been allowed into WA, he might have had a little bit of an unpleasant surprise to learn what people in WA actually think of him. There are few comments from my Facebook page that I can repeat in this place, but here are some of them. One said: 'Shame on him and the federal LNP government.' Another said:
"Well done Premier Mark McGowan for protecting Western AUSTRALIANS from assaults by Covid and the disrespectful Clive Palmer. Taking the best advice from Medical professionals is the way to go.…"
Alan said: 'And at the next elections we shall remember'—the Prime Minister's—'support for Palmer'. Vicky said: 'Thank you to the state lawyers and Mark McGowan,' and then asked, 'Is there a law that we can put in place to stop Clive Palmer ever entering WA?' Even though the border is coming down now and it's safe to travel between WA and other safe jurisdictions, it's very clear that Mr Palmer is not welcome in Western Australia.
So how did we get here? Let's go back to the very start of April when this COVID-19 pandemic really hit and Mark McGowan made a very tough but sensible decision to close Western Australia's border. It was the first time that this had happened since Federation, but the extraordinary circumstances called for extraordinary measures. And that response worked.
The health measures undertaken by the McGowan government in WA have been the envy of the world, and I think that my colleague here, the member for Fremantle, can attest to the fact that, in WA, we've been incredibly fortunate to be able to go about our business and our lives in a relatively normal fashion. We've been able to go to bars; we've been able to go to the theatre and to watch live sport, while much of the world, as we speak now, is returning to lockdown.
The Federal Court ruled in October that the hard border had been effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in WA. Of course, we had some natural advantages, like the fact that Perth is the world's most isolated city. I know that we always think of 'WA' as 'wait awhile', but I think, in this case, 'WA' stands for 'way ahead'! And we had some luck along the way, I'm sure, but it was decisions like the border closure that Mark McGowan took that have kept WA safe and strong.
But of course Clive Palmer wasn't okay with this. He wanted to be able to come to some meetings in Perth. So he decided to sue Western Australia and force open our border. Fortunately, last week, that lawsuit failed. And no thanks to our Prime Minister and Attorney-General Porter, both of whom supported Clive Palmer in his bid to have the WA border opened, as did Liza Harvey, the leader of the Liberal Party in Western Australia.
The people of WA, I have to say, were incredibly shocked and disappointed that this federal government joined the High Court action on the side of Clive Palmer. The fact that our Attorney-General is a Western Australian member added insult to injury. Now, it's true that, after a certain amount of public backlash, the Attorney-General withdrew. But he had the gall also to pretend that they hadn't supported Clive. There is a document filed in the High Court on 12 June by the Commonwealth that states: 'The Attorney-General intervenes in support of the position of the plaintiff.' Who is the plaintiff in this case? None other than Clive Palmer. Clive Palmer had the support of the Prime Minister, he had the support of Liza Harvey and he had the support of the Attorney-General when he tried to force open the WA border too early.
Like all Western Australians, I am grateful that the Mark McGowan Government has kept us safe. I'm grateful that the Federal Court and the High Court have ruled: 'Clive Palmer, you're fired!'