Josh Zimmerman - Mark McGowan calls on Scott Morrison to support WA’s bid

Josh Zimmerman - Mark McGowan calls on Scott Morrison to support WA’s bid for ‘fresh trial’ in Clive Palmer border battle

Mark McGowan is calling on Scott Morrison to support WA’s fight for a ‘fresh trial’ after the PM withdrew the Commonwealth’s involvement in Clive Palmer’s court bid to demolish WA’s hard border.

Mark McGowan is calling on Scott Morrison to support WA’s fight for a “fresh trial” after the Prime Minister withdrew the Commonwealth’s involvement in Clive Palmer’s court bid to demolish WA’s closed border.

The Federal Court will on Friday morning hold an urgent case management hearing via a Microsoft Teams video call to hear an application by the State Government for the current trial to be “vacated”.

If successful, it would mean all of the evidence given by public health experts called by the Commonwealth at last week’s hearings would be struck out and a new trial ordered.

This would be a major win for WA’s defence of its hard border as it would ensure the only witnesses arguing against the border closure would be those called by Mr Palmer’s legal team.

The second trial would likely be heard by a different judge and almost certainly delay the High Court delivering its verdict on the constitutional validity of the hard border to much later in the year.

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The West Australian understands the Premier today told the PM he believes the court should be told by the Commonwealth that it no longer seeks findings about the factual matters which it advanced in last Friday’s closing submissions.

In his submission, Commonwealth Solicitor General Stephen Donaghue said there was “no public health reason” to prevent people from States with no cases of community transmission in the past 28 days from travelling to WA.

Just 24 hours later — and after a fierce public backlash — Mr Morrison wrote to Mr McGowan to say the Commonwealth would not continue to participate the Queensland billionaire’s legal challenge.

The State Government is also pushing for the Commonwealth to formally tell the court that it no longer wants to change WA’s border settings, as the PM sensationally said in Saturday’s letter.

That letter, and the Premier’s response, forms part of an affidavit due to be lodged by the State Solicitor’s Office to request a fresh trial.

Federal Attorney General Christian Porter told told 6PR radio that as the First Law Officer of the Commonwealth he had an obligation to “tell the truth” and “assist the court”.

His State counterpart, John Quigley, said Mr Porter, a fellow West Australian, was “obliged” to appear in court on Friday and explain the Commonwealth’s new position on the border closure.

“It’s not satisfactory for Mr Porter to just close his briefcase, walk out of court and say nothing,” Mr Quigley said.

“It leaves the judge in a very, very difficult position if Mr Porter doesn’t tell the truth as it now exists — that the Commonwealth doesn’t want to disturb WA’s hard border.

“We didn’t create all this. We’re looking forward to the Prime Minister’s support and cooperation — and for the Commonwealth to cover the costs of a second trial.”

But the request for help appears to have fallen on deaf ears, with the Australian Government Solicitors telling WA it would not appear at the case management hearing and the effect of its withdrawal was a question for the court to resolve.

Mr Porter told The West Australian the course of action publicly requested by WA was for the Commonwealth “to effect a general and immediate withdrawal from these proceedings”.

“As set out in the Prime Minister’s letter on 1 August 2020, we agreed to that request and on 2 August 2020, the Commonwealth discontinued its intervention, as requested by Western Australia,” Mr Porter said.

“As a result, and at the specific request of the Western Australian Government, the Commonwealth is no longer a party to these proceedings.”

Mr McGowan today said Mr Palmer’s challenge “should go back to the drawing board” and that evidence provided by experts for the Commonwealth “should be struck out”.

Renewing calls for the billionaire to drop his High Court challenge, Mr McGowan said his view was that the Commonwealth’s withdrawal from the case meant any evidence it had tendered should also be withdrawn.

“Considering the Commonwealth has withdrawn, their witness evidence I think should be withdrawn and it should go back to the drawing board,” Mr McGowan said, although he would not be drawn on whether he thought the entire case should be re-heard.

“It's before the courts and there will be a legal argument… but certainly the Commonwealth's evidence should be struck out. If they're not part of the case their evidence should be struck out,” he said.

Responding to the revelation Mr Palmer was a member of the South Perth Yacht Club, Mr McGowan ruled out a day on the water with the mining magnate.

“He was going to build the Titanic, so I wouldn't go on any boat with Mr Palmer in light of his ambitions,” he said, adding Mr Palmer’s persistence with the border challenge was “very, very selfish”.

“He uses money generated in Western Australia, through Western Australian mining projects, to try and bring down our borders and damage the health of West Australians,” the Premier said.

As revealed by The West on Monday, Mr Palmer never formally applied to enter WA because the pilot of his private jet botched the paperwork.

Three applications seeking an exemption from the border closure were submitted in the name of the businessman’s pilot Carlo Filingeri, with one mistakenly listing Mr Palmer as his “husband”.

The paperwork was so badly botched that WA Police believed it was a hoax and rejected the applications, sparking Mr Palmer’s fury and the High Court challenge.

The Premier earlier this week claimed the United Australia Party leader wanted to come to WA to promote hydroxychloroquine as a “some sort of cure” for COVID-19.

Mr Palmer rejected calls from the Premier to withdraw from his case

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