The High Court of Australia has explained its reasons for rejecting billionaire Clive Palmer’s bid to tear down Western Australia’s hard border.
The High Court of Australia has explained its reasons for rejecting billionaire Clive Palmer’s bid to tear down Western Australia’s hard border.

Why Clive Palmer lost border court fight

Western Australia's hard border was justified to stop the potentially "catastrophic" spread of COVID-19, the High Court has confirmed in its reasons for rejecting a bid from billionaire Clive Palmer to scrap the tough measure.

The mining magnate had claimed WA's hard border was unconstitutional, but the High Court rejected his argument in November last year.

A more thorough written judgment was published on Wednesday, saying there could be "no doubt" a law restricting people's movement into a state was suitable to prevent the virus spreading.

If people entered WA while infectious, "there would be a high probability that the virus would be transmitted into the WA population and at least a moderate probability that there would be uncontrolled outbreaks".

The High Court has explained more thoroughly why Clive Palmer’s bid to tear down WA’s border was rejected.
The High Court has explained more thoroughly why Clive Palmer’s bid to tear down WA’s border was rejected.

"If there were uncontrolled outbreaks, the consequences would include the risk of death and hospitalisation," the judgment read.

"In a worst-case scenario, the health consequences could be catastrophic."

The High Court also said in a statement that while the WA Emergency Management Act and the direction to close the border placed a "burden" on interstate movement, it was "justified" for the pandemic.

"The burden was justified and the provisions, at least in their application to an emergency constituted by a hazard in the nature of a plague or epidemic, did not infringe the constitutional limitation in s 92," the statement read.

Mr Palmer has been ordered to pay the state's legal costs.

Premier Mark McGowan welcomed the judgment, saying the Queensland businessman's attempt to tear down the hard border was "completely baseless".

It's official: Clive Palmer and the Liberals' attempt to tear down our border controls, against health advice, wasn't just wrong - it was completely baseless.

Posted by Mark McGowan on Tuesday, February 23, 2021

WA shut its border to the rest of the country in March last year and has closed itself off to some jurisdictions at various times since reopening.

Mr Palmer launched his High Court challenge after he was denied a travel exemption to enter WA.

The border issue was just one of several legal fights between Mr Palmer and the Premier.

Emergency legislation was passed last year blocking Mr Palmer's right to arbitration and an estimated $30bn in damages over a long-running dispute about a stalled iron ore project.

Mr Palmer said this week that after the March 13 election the Premier would "face the music of our claim", prompting Mr McGowan to vow to fight the businessman "while there's breath" in his body.

The pair are also suing each other for defamation.

Originally published as Why Clive Palmer lost border court fight



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