WA Premier lays into Peter Dutton
WA Premier Mark McGowan has hit back at Peter Dutton for criticising the state's sudden hard lockdown, with the Home Affairs Minister labelling an elimination strategy an unrealistic "great political slogan" that will hurt business.
Mr Dutton, who was diagnosed with coronavirus in March just days after he met Ivanka Trump and multiple high-ranking officials in the US, said lockdowns caused domestic violence to surge and put extra pressure on parents with their children being at home rather than school.
"All of that compounds, you know, into a negative outcome for many families," he told Sky News on Monday after WA's first case of community transmission in almost 10 months triggered a strict five-day lockdown.
The male hotel quarantine worker, aged in his 20s, caught the highly infectious UK strain and has 66 close contacts who are being tested, with none so far returning positive results.
"In other states and territories, there is an ability to track and trace," Mr Dutton said.
"If there is a single case and it doesn't spread beyond that then people rightly at the end of this period scratch their head and say 'well was that necessary?
"And that's what the premier needs to answer. If the approach is for an elimination, thousands of people will lose their jobs and businesses will close unnecessarily."
Asked about his remarks, Mr McGowan was immediately dismissive.
"I had not thought about Peter Dutton in this context," the Premier told reporters.
"I know the Prime Minister and the federal health minister agree with what we have done. And they said that publicly.
"In relation to Mr Dutton I want to make this point. He is the Minister for Home Affairs.
"They have the responsibility for quarantine under the constitution. But he does not want to do that. So therefore, it has fallen to the states.
"So he should not be criticising when we are doing the task he should be performing."
Mr McGowan said quarantine should be done at defence bases, Christmas Island and other very remote places but the federal government had refused.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro was also critical, tweeting that WA's "hard border lockdown has proved pointless".
"I strongly recommend the WA Premier considers adopting the NSW strategy to manage this virus - because today WA has learnt firsthand an elimination strategy is unrealistic," Mr Barilaro wrote.
"NSW has been managing the COVID risk brought by international travellers for more than 12 months," another tweet by Mr Barilaro read.
"WA is now experiencing that and I feel for the citizens going into lockdown."
Mr McGowan was having none of it.
"He is obviously wrong," the Premier told the press conference.
"Having borders helps.
"That's why the Commonwealth has borders internationally, why when New Zealand had cases last week, they locked the border to New Zealand.
"Clearly borders help. I think that is staring us in the face - it's just common sense."
Other users of the social media platform cited the NSW government's handling of the Ruby Princess debacle.
Mr McGowan also defended the pace of the state government's rollout of daily testing of hotel quarantine workers, which began on Friday with saliva testing.
He pointed out the confirmed case had been tested three times before returning a positive result.
"We have consistently improved our systems since March of last year and no doubt over the course of this year we will have to consistently improve our systems as we pick up the learnings of other states and other parts of the world."
WA's COVID-19 system had been reviewed three times and found to be sound, Mr McGowan said, after announcing there would be two more reviews of hotel quarantining arrangements, including one by police.
"We are now doing our best to deal with a difficult situation."
It is not yet know precisely how the guard contracted the virus.
Mr McGowan said the air conditioning system at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in the CBD where the man worked was not recycled.
"The advice we have is the air conditioning system is safe and there is no evidence that there is any problem with the air conditioning," he said.
Originally published as WA Premier lays into Peter Dutton