NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s claim WA needs to cough up the cost of her state quarantining its returned citizens is outside the “agreement and spirit” of National Cabinet, Premier Mark McGowan says.
- Ms Berejiklian claimed WA owed NSW “around $7 million or $8 million”
- Mr McGowan suggested it could be a distraction from last week’s ICAC hearing
- WA had eight new coronavirus cases overnight from returned travellers
Ms Berejiklian claimed WA owed NSW “around $7 or $8 million dollars” for quarantining WA residents returning from overseas.
Ms Berejiklian made the comments while taking particular aim at Queensland, saying it owed NSW $35 million for “welcoming back their citizens” and the states should “cough up” the money or fully re-open their borders to NSW.
Mr McGowan said the claim was “frankly … outside the agreement and the spirit of the National Cabinet” and possibly a distraction from last week’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigation into Ms Berejiklian’s former partner.
“Each state agreed that whoever comes into our state would be taken care of by that state,” Mr McGowan said.
“At any given point in time we have people from Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory … each state does that.
“Or … for the billions upon billions of dollars we gave them in GST over the course of the last decade.
“Or maybe this is just a diversion by the New South Wales Government from the serious corruption that’s been exposed from senior levels there.”
‘We’re doing our bit’, McGowan says
WA reported eight new cases of COVID-19 overnight, all of whom were returning citizens from overseas including two NSW residents.
“We’re doing our bit,” Mr McGowan said, pointing out WA had quarantined returned NSW residents too.
“We currently have two people arriving in the last 24 hours from New South Wales who are COVID positive who we are looking after.”
The eight new cases returned from countries including Kuala Lumper, Singapore and Qatar.
It brings the total number of people currently in WA’s hotel quarantine system to 1,981.
NSW permits a maximum of 2,500 international travellers a week to Sydney Airport.
WA’s international weekly arrival cap is 1165.
Ship crew taken into quarantine
Eight crew on the Key Integrity bulk carrier docked at Fremantle Port were today transferred to hotel quarantine including two known COVID-19 cases.
It comes as one COVID-19 positive crew member on board the Al Messilah livestock carrier has been transported from hotel quarantine to hospital.
“He is 35 years of age, he’s in Royal Perth Hospital in a negative pressure room as we speak,” Mr McGowan said.
A total of 37 crew members have disembarked the ship docked at Fremantle Port, 25 of them are COVID-19 positive.
Meanwhile the total number of New Zealand travellers who have arrived in WA after the Commonwealth’s trans-Tasman travel bubble began has risen to 102.
Government still considering ‘turning ships around’
The Premier said the state continued to investigate “whatever options” it had to “discourage these ships from arriving in this condition”.
“One of the measures we are looking at is turning the ships around or saying you can’t take on board your cargo,” Mr McGowan said.
“The downside of that is … the ships may then not tell us that they have sick people on board.”
Mr McGowan made the same suggestion earlier this week, but his deputy Roger Cook later explained the state had a level of responsibility for those on board.
“We have a moral, and to some extent a legal responsibility, to look after the sick and the unwell,” he said yesterday.
“But we’d hate to reward these ship owners and vessels with a fresh load of cargo if they’re not actually doing the right thing by us by bringing a clean crew with them.”
Mr McGowan plans to raise the issue of coronavirus-infected ships arriving into WA waters when National Cabinet meets tomorrow.
“The Commonwealth needs to be more forceful in international forums and with foreign governments about ensuring the ships are clean,” he said.
“Having dirty ships come in just means we are going to go through these problems constantly.”