Like most West Australians I think our Premier, Mark McGowan, has done a good job in handling the Covid-19 crisis.
It is not by chance that he has gained such widespread respect and praise, as he served in the Navy and the training and discipline he received there is what a ‘war-time’ leader needs.
In saying he’s done a good job doesn’t mean he’s perfect, and by leaving the Goldfields-Esperance region out of the rest of the south west of the state is his first big mistake and as far as I’m concerned he has to take the brickbats with the bouquets.
The premier mentioned that the decision to treat us differently was because of the Aboriginal communities in the eastern half of our region, such as Warburton and Tjuntjunjara.
That is not a valid reason because local residents cannot go to those communities which have been isolated behind biosecurity zones. Though a concern I have in the past week or so is that members from those communities can come back the other way with impunity. And once they get here their lifestyle of living on the streets makes it almost impossible to for them adhere to normal Covid-19 restrictions.
Almost every local resident will have family or friends in Perth, yet we still can’t visit them, despite the fact there hasn’t been a new infection in Kalgoorlie-Boulder for more than a month and Esperance has never had one.
A mayor from one of the South West councils rang me to say that he thought our exclusion was political; that having a Liberal and National member represent the region meant we had no one at the table but I don’t agree with that claim.
What I do believe is that there is no scientific reason why almost three-million people can be put in one region and 50,000 excluded and put into another region.
The same day our isolation was announced the government went big on tourism, calling on West Australians to holiday in their own state. That is, anywhere except Kalgoorlie or Esperance.
It was especially interesting at yesterday’s news conference to hear the Premier speak out against FIFO – something near and dear to my heart.
My worry is his idea of reducing FIFO is getting workers from the eastern states to move to Mandurah and Perth to then FIFO to the Pilbara or the Goldfields. My idea of stopping FIFO is getting the workers and their families here, where the mines are.
The Premier spoke of the need for mining companies to offer incentives to convert from FIFO to residential, something I’ve been saying for more than a year, because each FIFO worker costs companies an extra $40,000 to $45,000, and only a fool would say that it’s better for the father or mother to be away from their family for long periods of time.