The West Australian




Mining companies could be given the green light to run their own vaccinatio­n programs for FIFO workers. Prime Minister Scott Morrison raised the idea during a widerangin­g interview last night on a flight to WA — his first trip here in 537 days. He also spoke about Mark McGowan, Clive Palmer and Christian Porter.

Scott Morrison has left the door open to allowing big mining companies to vaccinate their own workforces.

With the rollout far behind where it was expected to be, the Prime Minister last night said he was open to the plan.

Mr Morrison sat down with The West Australian during his flight to WA last night.

He is visiting for the first time in 537 days and will stay until Friday.

“I think it’s a good suggestion and I look forward to discussing it in WA when I am there this week,” he said.

“The principal problem has been supply and the next big challenge has been the (AstraZenec­a) advice. West Australian mining companies have done a brilliant job and it is something to look at.”

Despite Labor Premier Mark McGowan’s thumping election win at the State poll, Mr Morrison said he did not believe he had lost the trust of West Australian­s during the pandemic.

“I don’t believe that to be true,” he said.

Mr Morrison said any anger directed towards the Commonweal­th over the Clive Palmer action was misplaced because the Federal Government pulled out of the case.

“That was the opposite of what we normally would have done,” he said.

Mr Morrison said he would work hard to win the next election but was not yet confident enough to say it was a done deal. He also would not rule out doing a preference deal with Mr Palmer as the Coalition did at the 2019 election.

“We don’t know if he’s running yet,” Mr Morrison said.

“These things are organised through the parties at a party level.”

He said he hoped to visit WA as often as possible but that he didn’t need to as often as Anthony Albanese because the Coalition had more West Australian­s in positions of power.

“I talk to West Australian­s every day and they are sitting in my Cabinet,” he said.

The PM said he would meet with Christian Porter today and would make an announceme­nt with him. Mr Porter outed himself as the minister at the centre of historical rape allegation­s and was stood aside as attorney-general while he fights defamation action against the ABC.

Mr Porter strenuousl­y denies the allegation­s.

But a specific event with Linda Reynolds, who was dumped as defence minister recently, is not planned.

Senator Reynold’s former staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped in Senator Reynold’s office in Parliament House in 2019.

Two weeks ago, Mr Morrison said he had not yet personally reached out to Ms Higgins after the incident was made public. He told The West Australian that had now occurred through his office.

“My office has reached out but has not heard back,” he said.

Asked about Ms Higgins’ book deal, which was announced last night, Mr Morrison said: “I wish her well.”

On internatio­nal travel, Mr Morrison suggested it would be a long while before it was back to normal but suggested it might be restarted in phases.

It could be business travel first and perhaps rather than hotel quarantine, home quarantine particular­ly with travel to low-risk areas.

“It will be contingent upon the medical advice and transmissi­bility,” he said.

“This would then free up hotel quarantine for travel from high-risk areas.

“If Australian­s were vaccinated overseas with an approved vaccine then we could look at allowing more of them to return, too.”

On full-cycle docking and the decision that has been delayed for 17 months, Mr Morrison said it had simply been “reprioriti­sed”.

“There is no shortage of ship building in Western Australia,” Mr Morrison said.

The Prime Minister also addressed his perceived difficulti­es in addressing women’s problems.

“This is an issue I have understood for a long time ... right back to when I was immigratio­n minister and I saw the treatment of migrant women and the domestic violence they faced,” Mr Morrison said.

“I understand the frustratio­n and I share it.”

He said he told his two daughters they could “be anything they want to be”.

The Prime Minister’s last trip to WA was in October 2019 for Telethon, making it 537 days since he has been here.

His trip will include a speech to the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a resources-related trip to the Pilbara. Mr Morrison is also expected to visit cyclone-impacted regions on Friday before attending the West Coast Eagles match on Friday night.

In a speech tomorrow, the PM will say WA’s resources sector is crucial to the national economy and he will champion critical minerals and say the State’s processing is key.

“There are some who argue that mining and resources aren’t a key part of Australia’s future,” Mr Morrison will say.

“My Government knows this couldn’t be further from the truth, particular­ly for WA and for our regions.

“My Government believes in the mining and resources sector and we have a plan to keep backing it to innovate and create jobs for decades to come.”

Mr Morrison will say global demand for clean technology applicatio­ns, such as highpowere­d magnets and batteries, will grow exponentia­lly over coming decades. “WA’s role will not just be extraction but value-added processing as well,” he will say.

Mr Morrison will seek to talk up the Coalition’s role on the economy. He will also say the GST deal to ensure WA gets its fair share will not change.

“I know how important it is because I did it. I designed it. I negotiated it and implemente­d it,” he will say. “This is my deal and it is not changing.”

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