Mining magnate Clive Palmer's legal bid to tear down Western Australia's hard border closure is likely headed for the High Court.
Federal Court Justice Darryl Rangiah today said WA's decision to keep the borders closed to other jurisdictions was more effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19 than other measures such as hotel quarantine.
Justice Rangiah said the "health consequences would be catastrophic" if the hard border regime was dismantled.
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"In view of the uncertainties involved in determining the probability that COVID-19 would be imported into Western Australia from elsewhere in Australia, and the potentially serious consequences if it were imported, a precautionary approach should be taken to decision-making about the measures required for the protection of the community," he said.
The court also ruled against holding a second Federal Court trial.
The WA government hoped for a retrial after the Commonwealth withdrew its involvement.
"The prejudice to Western Australia has not been caused by the withdrawal, but by the Commonwealth having intervened in support of the Palmer parties' case in the first place," Justice Rangiah said.https://twitter.com/PatrickGormanMP/status/1298117744999591936
The High Court still has to decide on Mr Palmer's challenge.
State premier Mark McGowan is fighting to keep the hard border closure in place until "beyond March" if necessary.
He described today's decision in the Federal Court as a "comprehensive victory" for the state government.
"This is a comprehensive victory for Western Australia and the people of this state," he said.
"We have had to fight Clive Palmer and we had to fight the Liberal party over our borders and this has been a vindication of our stance.
"Basically the border has saved lives ... that has been our submission, that has been our view."
Mr McGowan said it would have been "easier" if the Commonwealth Government had not endorsed Mr Palmer's move.
"The Liberal Party endorsing Mr Palmer's action was wrong and inappropriate," he said.
"I don't think they were listening to the people of WA."
Mr Palmer is arguing that WA's "all-or-nothing" approach to the border closure is unconstitutional.
He argued the border closure breached section 92 of the constitution, which requires that "commerce and intercourse among states … shall be absolutely free".
The matter was sent to the Federal Court to determine key facts of the case, including the health risk posed by COVID-19 and whether border closures were the most effective measure to contain its spread.
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Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/clive-palmer-wa-border-challenge-dealt-blow-as-judge-rules-closure-is-best-for-keeping-covid19-out/8a708a43-7165-408a-8b61-25f2366572f0