The West Australian Government has released a document clearly stating federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter, joined court action designed to remove the state’s hard border “in support” of Queensland businessman Clive Palmer’s position. Mr Palmer’s legal challenge against WA’s hard border commenced in the Federal Court this week, with a final decision expected to be made in the High Court later this year.
Attorney-General Christian Porter ‘in support’ of Clive Palmer’s WA border challenge, document shows
The Commonwealth joined the legal action, but on Perth talkback radio station 6PR on Monday, Mr Porter said the Commonwealth was not “arguing for either side.”
“We are at the Commonwealth a middle man if you like, who is there to provide expert evidence, to inform the court, and to offer observations about what the facts are through our medical experts, just like WA does, and then offer observations to the court about how those facts relate to the words of the constitution and the constitutionality of the situation,” Mr Porter said.
But a document released by the State Government that was filed to the High Court on June 12 states “the Attorney-General intervenes in support of the position of the plaintiffs”.
Mr Palmer and his company, Mineralogy, are the plaintiffs.
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Earlier, Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann — who like Mr Porter is a West Australian — echoed Mr Porter’s comments from Monday.
“This is not a matter of us siding with any particular litigant,” he said.
“Where there are serious matters of constitutional law involved, the High Court expects that the Federal Government will be part of the proceedings in order to explain its perspectives on important matters of constitutional law.”
Palmer says McGowan exploiting ‘threats that don’t exist’
Mr Palmer today accused WA Premier Mark McGowan of lying to the public about why the state’s border had been kept closed, as the battle between the two parties intensified.
Earlier this week, WA’s Chief Health Officer Andrew Robertson told the Federal Court there was little public health justification for keeping WA closed to the five other states and territories that had eliminated coronavirus.
He said he had written to the State Government indicating it could consider a travel bubble with South Australia and the Northern Territory if it was legally viable, given the risk of reintroduction of COVID-19 from those jurisdictions was low.
Mr Palmer said that proved Mr McGowan had misled the public by saying borders had been kept closed based on health advice.
“That’s a wholly different picture than you hear from the Premier,” he said.
“I’d call upon the Western Australian Government to maintain border closures in relation to hotspots in Australia but not to lie to the Western Australian people about threats that don’t exist.”
Mr Palmer said every Australian had the right to travel the country, even amid the pandemic.
“What the Western Australia Government has done is unconstitutional. We are one country and one nation,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter whether you live in Queensland or Western Australia, we are one country.”
WA recorded one new case of COVID-19 overnight.
The woman, aged in her 30s and who had returned from South Africa, remains in hotel quarantine.
It brings WA’s total number of active cases to seven.
A total of 666 cases have been diagnosed in the state to date.