Hard border win but more Palmer battles ahead

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The McGowan Government won today with the High Court’s decision on the hard border but mining billionaire Clive Palmer still has other actions against the state, which taxpayers will have to defend. File picture

THE McGowan Government has won one of its battles with mining billionaire Clive Palmer with the High Court ruling that the use of emergency powers to close the state’s border during a pandemic does not infringe Australia’s Constitution.

In this case the court has ordered that Mr Palmer pay costs.

But this morning state Attorney-General John Quigley said Mr Palmer still had eight actions against the WA government some of which relate to a $30 billion damages case, World Trade applications and an arbitration case, which could play out for years and cost taxpayers a lot of money to defend.

Mr Quigley, who is also the Butler MLA, said the High Court’s decision affirmed a long line of cases dating back to 1928 respecting the state’s power to have hard borders in health crises.

He said the government only made the decision to have a hard border once it was it was 100 per cent certain it was valid.

Premier Mark McGowan said Mr Quigley had been steadfast and level-headed and given the very best of advice to the government.

But Mr McGowan criticised Mr Palmer for ignoring (Covid-19) health advice and the state and federal Liberals for backing Mr Palmer.

“I thought the Liberal Party believed in states’ rights,’’ he said.

“I thought they believed in the capacity of state governments to protect the health of their citizens.”

Mr Quigley was also critical of federal Attorney-General Christian Porter for intervening on behalf of Mr Palmer.

He also asked Mr Palmer to re-consider his other court actions out of concern for taxpayers.

On August 26 after Palmer’s legal action returned to the High Court after the Federal Court determined border restrictions were an appropriate response to the threat of the pandemic Mr Quigley said the (Federal Court) had noted as there had been no community transmissions since April if the disease entered Western Australia it would be catastrophic especially in vulnerable communities like aged care, remote indigenous etc.

Mr Quigley said Mr Porter had made much of economic and social hardship such as isolation but there had been no evidence put before the court as to economic or social impact whatsoever so he had been very confident of the outcome.