MP surprised by regional travel
Local Nationals MP Terry Redman has expressed surprise at Premier Mark McGowan’s call to open intrastate borders on Monday rather than allow the region’s economy to fire back into life within the safety of the South West’s lockdown.
The Warren-Blackwood MLA said it was hard to assess the plan because Opposition MPs had limited access to the Premier’s information.
“I was surprised that they opened up Perth (to access the South West) because that could dial up the risk,” he told the Times.
“Up until that decision was made, a lot of the calls to me were about lifting the restrictions within the boundaries.”
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Mr Redman said with borders re-opening, the WA Government’s focus had to be on intensive testing.
“Testing has to be a solid part of their response measures now and we can’t be lagging the other States in our level of testing,” he said.
But figures aired in Parliament on Wednesday showed WA was not testing enough asymptomatic residents without obvious signs of COVID-19, Mr Redman said.
The MP’s concerns were echoed by Australian Medical Association WA president Andrew Miller who said State testing rates were “nowhere near high enough” (see below).
Responding to feedback from accommodation providers anticipating a mini-tourism boom, Mr Redman said health experts warned about serious concerns for Augusta.
“Only about one in five homes is occupied, the rest is holiday homes,” he said.
“I’m really worried about Augusta.”
At the same time, Mr Redman said economic drivers had to be considered, with as many as half of Margaret River’s businesses at risk of permanent closure without relief.
“Many of these are hand-to-mouth and have set up on a shoestring and are very dependent on the tourism market and don’t have reserves,” he said.
But he also said it made no sense to limit pubs opening when playgrounds remained shut.
Liberal MLA Libby Mettam said she believed those decisions should be made based on public health advice, which was what informed the Premier’s decision.
“We have to trust the health advice,” she said. “We are in a better position to be able to respond to spikes that might happen in the community. We’ve all got that personal responsibility.”
A spokesman for Mark McGowan said all decisions were made based on advice from WA’s Chief Health Officer and Police Commissioner Chris Dawson.
“All the advice said it must be done in a staged process,” he said.
“But our 20-person rule for cafes/restaurants/bars go further than any other State.”
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