77pc still sup­port WA hard bor­der

The West Australian - - CORONAVIRU­S CRISIS - TIM CLARKE

A poll shows most West Aus­tralians still back Premier Mark McGowan’s hard­line hard bor­der pol­icy — but the level of that sup­port is de­clin­ing.

New polling car­ried out by Ut­ting Re­search from Septem­ber 24 to 26 shows that 77 per cent of 3500 peo­ple ques­tioned said they still sup­ported keep­ing WA’s bor­ders closed to the rest of the coun­try.

Only 14 per cent op­posed a con­tin­ued shut­down.

While those num­bers will pro­vide tan­gi­ble and wel­come back­ing for the Premier, they rep­re­sent a 15 per cent fall in sup­port for Mr McGowan’s stance from a sim­i­lar poll last month.

Early last month, a sur­vey by Painted Dog re­search re­vealed that 92 per cent of the 837 peo­ple asked said they wanted the State’s shut­ters to stay down.

That fall in re­cent weeks has co­in­cided with in­creased pres­sure on the Premier to con­sider lift­ing the lock­down. But he re­it­er­ated yes­ter­day it would not be hap­pen­ing any time soon.

“I know I cop a lot of crit­i­cism over this, and I know I will get a lot more crit­i­cism if I let the virus in and peo­ple start dy­ing and we lose all of our good eco­nomic out­comes,” Mr McGowan said.

“I just want to keep us healthy, keep us safe and keep us cre­at­ing jobs. And part of keep the econ­omy that way is by keep­ing the virus out — that is why I am so cau­tious about this.

“If the virus comes back peo­ple will die and we will have eco­nomic catas­tro­phe as has hap­pened ev­ery­where else. I am just very cau­tious about al­low­ing this virus back in.”

Some of that crit­i­cism had come from Fed­eral Fi­nance Min­is­ter Mathias Cor­mann, who said last week that Mr McGowan’s stance on the bor­der smacked of “eco­nomic pro­tec­tion­ism” — and could be un­con­sti­tu­tional.

“I don’t know you were eco­nom­i­cally pro­tec­tion­ist when you kept all the trad­ing industries open, and we have the most free and open so­ci­ety in Aus­tralia,” Mr McGowan said.

“We have the strong­est econ­omy within WA of any State in the na­tion, we are lead­ing em­ploy­ment growth, we have got the strong­est land sales, and house sales.

“The strong­est build­ing in­dus­try, strong­est rates of con­struc­tion, strong­est re­tail and hos­pi­tal­ity, strong­est tourism in­dus­try. We are lead­ing the na­tion — I don't know how that is pro­tec­tion­ist.”

And he also said WA’s suc­cesses in coro­n­avirus con­tain­ment — the last case of com­mu­nity trans­fer in the State was 178 days ago — had led to the “freest so­ci­ety ... any­where in Aus­tralia.”

But he said that brought with it other vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.

“Be­cause we are so open and so free to move around we are more vul­ner­a­ble if a case gets in. That to a de­gree ex­plains my cau­tion,” Mr McGowan said.

“When we are con­fi­dent it is safe to open, well then at that point in time we will.

“Un­til then, and un­til we get the health ad­vice, we are go­ing to be cau­tious.”

The polling sup­port­ing Mr McGowan’s bor­der pol­icy comes af­ter last week’s poll which sug­gested his Lib­eral op­po­nents were fac­ing elec­tion ar­maged­don.

If the polling was repli­cated at the March elec­tion, then Op­po­si­tion Leader Liza Har­vey would lose her own seat of Scar­bor­ough.

That seat, along with Hil­larys, Dawesville, Joon­dalup and Kings­ley — recorded a mas­sive 16 per cent swing to­wards La­bor.

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