WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan could play a crucial role in the timing of the next federal election through his firm grip on state lines.
While voters may be sent to the polls this year, May 21 is the last possible date for regular elections.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison admits he will have little say in allowing Western Australia to campaign.
The tough stance of WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan (pictured left) could force Scott Morrison (pictured right) to postpone next federal election
‘It’s not really me. It’s up to the WA Prime Minister whether he opens the borders or not to someone from the eastern states,” he told 6PR radio on Tuesday.
“These are decisions he will make in the interest of WA and I understand that. I know what the powers are – they are his.
“But I also know that we want to bring the country together and open it up safely. That’s what the national plan is about.’
Morrison has consistently said the election will be next year.
The Prime Minister is adamant that states should open borders with 80 percent national vaccination coverage, but the WA Prime Minister is holding out.
McGowan told the Labor state conference last weekend that he would not relax the hard limits until a 90 percent vaccination rate was reached.
He has highlighted the prospect of travel bans remaining in effect well into next year.
Mr McGowan has spent 18 months conditioning his state’s voters to be so terrified of a Covid outbreak that they will support prolonged border closures.
While he held the WA hard border high for eight months last year, he regularly suggested that even a slight softening of the border would immediately trigger a massive, deadly outbreak.
According to a new survey of 1097 residents of Western Australia, only 45 percent accepted Covid infections (photo, customers in a pub in Perth)
His consistent “us vs. them” rhetoric, which taps into WA’s longstanding antipathy toward the eastern states, appears to have been highly successful.
A recent poll found that only 45 percent of respondents accepted any Covid-19 infections in WA – an impossibility once it opens to the world.
Only 33 percent would tolerate someone becoming seriously ill and 29 percent refused to open the border when there was some risk of even one Covid death.
This is despite the fact that an average of 46.5 people in WA died from the flu in the first nine months of 2018 and 2019.
The Painted Dog Research survey also found that 84 percent of Western Australians did not think hospitals could cope with a Covid outbreak.
The state also supported Mark McGowan’s plan to introduce vaccine passports, which Mr. McGowan made mandatory for travel, sporting events and miners.
They are supported by 87 percent of the over-60s, 81 percent of the 40-59 year olds and 76 percent of the 18-39 year olds.
The Prime Minister’s border closures until the state reaches 90 percent vaccination coverage would mean Scott Morrison would not be able to campaign in Western Australia (pictured, a border control north of Perth)
A spokeswoman for Mr McGowan said last week the state was “already open” with no Covid restrictions while NSW and Victoria were in lockdown.
‘We are already open in WA. We have no restrictions in WA,” she said.
“The big AFL final in Perth was such a success because of the safe management of WA during this pandemic.
“We’ve kept WA’s economy going and growing, and we’ve kept the rest of the country afloat by staying open.”
The spokeswoman claimed the national reopening plan allowed states to impose lockdowns and keep borders closed, even after 80 percent vaccination.
“WA will not be pressured by liberals and nationals to abolish border controls against health advice,” she said.
A spokesman for the WA Premier said Western Australia has remained open and has ‘kept the nation afloat’ (pictured, Mark McGowan at Optus Stadium)
She, on behalf of Mr McGowan, also pointed to the outdated federal budget assumption made four months ago that international travel would not resume until September 2022.
Morrison will instead allow travel from next month with home quarantine on return.
He has demanded that state borders be opened to avoid a situation where Australians could vacation in Bali and Europe but not visit relatives in WA.
WA is once again emerging as a key election battleground, with Labor set its sights on Swan’s Liberal seat, which has a 3.2 percent margin.
Government MP Steve Irons, who has held the seat since 2007, is retiring.
Sky News commentator Kristy McSweeney has been preselected for the Liberals to face Labor candidate and engineer Zaneta Mascarenhas.
The opposition is also looking to Pearce’s seat, Christian Porter, after the former attorney general left the cabinet.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted he could do nothing to relax Western Australia’s tight borders (pictured, a couple on a beach in Perth)
Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts, who is a Labor candidate, will have to win a margin of 5.2 percent to beat Mr Porter.
Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk has a tough stance on borders with her state which is also home to a number of key federal seats.
Western Australians delivered a devastating election victory to Mr McGowan in March, nearly wiping out the Liberals thanks to pandemic management.
Morrison insisted that he worked closely with the Prime Minister “in almost all cases” during the crisis, despite coming from different sides of politics.
“The situation in WA is very different from the rest of the country. I always get that from WA,” said the prime minister.