WA border closure reviewed in two weeks

The WA opposition says Premier Mark McGowan has been caught out over keeping the border closed.
The WA opposition says Premier Mark McGowan has been caught out over keeping the border closed.

Western Australia's coronavirus border closures remain "appropriate and proportionate" but should be reviewed at the end of the month, the state's chief health officer has advised.

The advice, outlined in a letter to Police Commissioner Chris Dawson, comes after Andy Robertson said he was open to considering travel bubbles with other jurisdictions that had also gone at least 28 days without community spread.

All states and territories besides NSW and Victoria have met that benchmark, Dr Robertson said in the letter tabled in parliament by Premier Mark McGowan on Thursday.

He recommended the overall border closures be reassessed on October 28 and the NSW controls reviewed a fortnight later.

"NSW has reported 49 cases in the last week, which includes cases in hotel quarantine," Dr Robertson wrote on Wednesday.

"Given the testing and contract tracing being undertaken, this is expected to fall to less than five community cases per day in the next two weeks.

"The border controls are considered appropriate and proportionate at this time but it is recommended that they be reviewed in four weeks, particularly if they have less than five community cases per day."

It could pave the way for WA to open its borders to low-risk states such as South Australia followed by NSW and finally Victoria in coming weeks and months.

Health Minister Roger Cook added to the intrigue on Thursday, telling a Business News breakfast "we are now in a position to have to consider what we do with our borders".

The premier, who is under pressure to reveal when the borders will reopen, tabled the latest health advice while responding to a censure motion in parliament.

He said he had spoken to Dr Robertson and been assured the borders needed to stay in place to all states and territories for the time being.

"If you want to question that, that means you're impugning his integrity and you're also impugning the integrity of the commissioner of police," Mr McGowan said during the fiery debate.

"This government, despite the Liberal Party, has kept West Australians safe."

State and federal Liberals have accused the premier of playing politics with the borders.

Dr Robertson on Wednesday said he was generally satisfied with other states' border controls, adding that many had duplicated those of WA.

The premier has previously cited health advice in claiming other states' borders are "not as strong as ours".

Mr McGowan has consistently stated that an "all or nothing" hard border approach is the only way to prevent further outbreaks in WA.

WA recorded five new cases in hotel quarantine on Thursday, taking the number of active cases to 24.

Three women and two men aged 25 to 30 tested positive after returning from India, Nepal and Brazil.

The Vega Dream iron ore carrier set sail to the Philippines on Wednesday night from its anchorage off Port Hedland.

It was cleared by federal authorities to depart carrying six COVID-19 positive crew.

Australian Associated Press