The acting leader of New South Wales has lashed out at the West Australian premier for “lecturing” him on border decisions.
NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro has been designated acting premier while Gladys Berejiklian is on holiday, and during his week in the top job he has gotten into a war of words with WA chief Mark McGowan.
“I don’t like being lectured by premiers of other states, and we’re not going to be lecturing them about what happens in their states,” Mr Barilaro said on Wednesday.
He was reacting to comments made by Mr McGowan the previous day that Mr Barilaro was “wrong, irresponsible, silly and quite selfish” when he suggested NSW should be able to put international returnees on domestic flights to their home states rather than quarantining in Sydney.
“I’m not going to get into a public debate with the premier of Western Australia,” Mr Barilaro said.
“We were being lectured by WA as if, somehow, the approach and the framework we have in place in this state (isn’t) one that actually protects the people of NSW.”
Mr Barilaro suggested Mr McGowan, of the Labor Party, chose the tough words because WA will go to the polls in March.
“Remember, we are one nation. WA has closed the borders on NSW, it wasn’t our (choice),” Mr Barilaro said.
WA has argued it accepts more overseas travellers per capita than NSW, while the latter state has claimed it is owed payments from the rest of the country for operating a hotel quarantine system that admits travellers from other states and territories.
Mr McGowan’s comments came as a variant of COVID-19 rapidly spreading in the United Kingdom was confirmed to have reached Perth, with three people in hotel quarantine infected.
He threw his support behind the idea of getting Australians to test negative for coronavirus before boarding a flight home.
“I certainly would support testing people coming out of jurisdictions like the UK or the US where they can be tested and we can find out whether or not they’re positive before they board the flight to Australia,” he said.
“This was discussed at the last national cabinet meeting. The Commonwealth government does not support it, but I support it.”
Mr McGowan said while such testing was not necessarily possible for every country, it was for many.
“To me this is a no-brainer,” he said. “If we do this we can better protect our citizens.”