Scott Morrison could be locked out of campaigning in Western Australia until February – and that has big ramifications for the election.
Scott Morrison could be locked out of campaigning in Western Australia by border closures until February as both sides prepare for the federal election that could be held as early as March.
Logistics planning for both of the major parties has been thrown into turmoil as a result of hard line border closures in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.
Two months are looming as likely options for the federal election: March and May. Queensland and WA in particular are regarded as battleground states that could determine the outcome of the election.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not been able to enter Queensland since the border closed in the middle of the year. He hasn’t set foot in the Sunshine State since May.
In South Australia, border restrictions will ease on November 23, with double vaccinated travellers able to travel without quarantine from next Monday.
The last time the Prime Minister was able to campaign in Western Australia was in June, when he travelled through Perth on his way to the G7 summit in Cornwall.
While the Queensland border could open as early as December, by the time the Prime Minister can enter the state it will have been six months since he was able to fly into Brisbane.
In WA, if borders open in February it will have been seven or eight months since Mr Morrison was able to get on the ground there.
The Prime Minister has been ramping up the rhetoric in recent weeks over the need to speed up WA’s border reopening.
“Once you go over 80 per cent and you keep things locked down, you are doing more harm than good to your economy,” he said on Monday.
“You’re actually putting a price on Australians when you continue to put heavy restrictions on your economy once you hit 80 per cent vaccination rates.”
Earlier this week the WA Premier rejected Health Minister Greg Hunt‘s prediction that Western Australia might open its borders earlier than expected to coincide with the Perth Ashes Test on January 14.
“But we are hearing that they are considering bringing that forward to at least… well, coincidently, to time with the cricket,‘’ he said.
But WA Premier Mark McGowan said that suggestion was simply not the case.
“I‘ve never met Greg Hunt, I’ve never spoken to Greg Hunt, I wouldn’t know him if I met him,” Mr McGowan said on Monday.
“He has got a very vivid imagination. He has not spoken to the [WA] Health Minister.
“I would just urge the Commonwealth government to stop making things up.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese is largely in the same boat as a result of border closures. While there were contingency plans for him to quarantine to enter WA and Queensland if an election were held in November or December, those dates are no longer options for a federal election.
Neither leader is likely to take themselves out of circulation for two weeks in January to enter WA and are likely to simply wait until the border reopens.