INTRASTATE TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS — KIMBERLEY AND EAST PILBARA
516. Hon KEN BASTON to the Minister for Regional Development:
I refer to the Western Australian
government's response published on the ABC Kimberley Facebook page to a
plan, co-signed by the Kimberley shire president, the Kimberley Aboriginal
Medical Service and the chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Advisory Group on COVID-19, outlining a 12-point strategy to assist in enabling
the lifting of the Kimberley designated biosecurity area travel restrictions.
(1) Did the minister suggest to the attendees of the
Kimberley virtual visit, hosted by the Kimberley Development Commission
on 19 May, that these restrictions could be lifted by 8 June?
(2) If yes to (1), why was the date
(3) If no to (1), what date was
discussed during this meeting?
(4) Considering the government's response to
the letter mentioned, when will it be possible to provide Kimberley residents, businesses and authorities with some
clarity and consistent advice on when the region can reopen?
ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:
I thank the member for the question.
(1)–(4) The Premier has always been very clear that we are
doing this in tranches. We went into an early and quite comprehensive
lockdown, particularly in the Kimberley, where we had three layers of
restrictions and where we were able to lift those restrictions that were based
on the shire boundaries, to take effect. The Premier has also repeatedly said
that in the three to four weeks following the previous decision, we will assess what the impact has been and then look at
the next tranche. I think I said that at the very earliest, if we are
looking at three weeks, that would be a date in early June. What we have seen
emerge in the Kimberley is absolutely
fantastic and it is why in the last tranche we have been able to lift those
boundaries between the shires with a great
deal of confidence. We have had the four shire presidents, together with the
Aboriginal leadership—people like
Lawford Benning and Peter Yu and the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical
Service, led by Vicky O'Donnell, I believe—coming together with
the various chambers of commerce and arriving at a united strategy. I think
that a really positive thing has been emerging in the Kimberley.
As Premier McGowan has said time and
again, we do not want to impose more restrictions than are necessary to keep the community safe. We are going
to be guided by the performance and rate at which we have been able to contain infection levels. We are
very mindful of the fact that there are lots of businesses—indeed,
lots of Aboriginal-owned businesses—that want to see people coming into
their region again. There is a degree of complexity in this matter, because it
is subject to a federal biosecurity regulation, and we are working closely,
obviously, with the federal government. But I think that having such a united
front emerging in the Kimberley will help us find an early and widely accepted
resolution to the issue of the restrictions.