State premiers with strict border controls have been vindicated by a significant High Court decision.
The full bench has rejected mining billionaire Clive Palmer’s challenge against Western Australia’s border ban, finding both the health directions and emergency laws to be valid.
Mr Palmer will have to pay costs.
WA Premier Mark McGowan heralded the win as a victory for all of Australia.
He said his government had sought legal and health advice before enacting the “appropriate, proportionate and effective” border closure.
“We are keeping border controls in place for the foreseeable future,” Mr McGowan told reporters in Perth.
“They have proven their worth.”
WA’s border has been closed for eight months and is due to lift on November 14, except for NSW and Victoria whose residents still face some restrictions.
Mr McGowan thanked all states – except NSW – for backing WA in the court case.
“The irony is of course NSW has put a border in place with Victoria, yet they claim they don’t support borders. Their position is very convoluted and difficult to understand.”
The decision is a relief for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk, who is also facing immense pressure over border restrictions.
The main political pressure point will come when NSW opens its borders to Victoria on November 23.
“That High Court case has clearly showed that the declarations that were made around the border were valid, they were constitutional,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
She is expected to make further announcements on border rules at the end of the month, saying Victorians could be allowed in before Christmas.
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the government would look closely at the findings, having walked away from Mr Palmer’s side of the case in August.
The government has toned down its arguments against border closures, with Senator Birmingham saying they should reopen when safe to do so.
The Australian Industry Group has urged state leaders not to take the court decision as a green light to keep border closed, pointing to their economic impact.
Tasmania reinstated travel ties with NSW on Friday.
The High Court has also dismissed a separate constitutional case against Victoria’s strict lockdown measures, which lifted last week.
The state has recorded seven straight days of no new coronavirus cases or deaths.
Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry has made a raft of interim recommendations, including the system be split into two, with a home-based as well as facility-based model.
The inquiry also says police should be present around the clock at quarantine facilities.
NSW recorded four new locally-acquired coronavirus cases in the state’s Southern Highlands region.