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Hardline Premier Mark McGowan could finally be softening on his stubborn refusal to open Western Australia’s border for a reason that has nothing to do with vaccine rates. 

Health Minister Greg Hunt hinted the isolated state would consider opening up to NSW, Victoria and the rest of the world to host the fifth and final Ashes cricket test in Perth, scheduled for mid-January.

Mr McGowan has repeatedly refused to open his borders to states with more than handful of Covid cases until 90 per cent of his 12-plus population is vaccinated. 

‘We’d like to see Western Australia open as soon as possible,’ Mr Hunt told ABC Insiders program on Sunday.

‘We are hearing that they are considering bringing that forward to at least, well, coincidentally, to time with the cricket.’ 

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced the isolated state would consider opening up to other states and the rest of the world to host the fifth and final Ashes cricket test in Perth, earmarked for mid-January (pictured, batsman Steve Smith during a 2019 test)

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced the isolated state would consider opening up to other states and the rest of the world to host the fifth and final Ashes cricket test in Perth, earmarked for mid-January (pictured, batsman Steve Smith during a 2019 test)

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced the isolated state would consider opening up to other states and the rest of the world to host the fifth and final Ashes cricket test in Perth, earmarked for mid-January (pictured, batsman Steve Smith during a 2019 test)

Western Australia's borders could reopen weeks earlier than planned if the fifth and final cricket test match is hosted in Perth next January (pictured, arrivals at Perth Airport)

Western Australia's borders could reopen weeks earlier than planned if the fifth and final cricket test match is hosted in Perth next January (pictured, arrivals at Perth Airport)

Western Australia’s borders could reopen weeks earlier than planned if the fifth and final cricket test match is hosted in Perth next January (pictured, arrivals at Perth Airport)

WA is expected to be 90 per cent vaccinated rate sometime in February, but Mr Hunt implied borders could open weeks before this.

Mr McGowan’s government will require players to spend five days in quarantine, and anyone else entering the state must to do 14 days at their own expense.

This is after the vaccinated arrival has received an initial negative Covid test 72 hours before boarding a plane to WA and a second negative result within 48 hours of entering the state. 

That is if they can secure an exemption to arrive at all.

Mr Hunt said although the final decision on opening borders lay in the hands of Mr McGowan and his advisors, he wanted to see the state open as soon as possible.  

He hinted domestic travel with other Covid-hit states could be back on the cards to coincide with the final test match in mid-January.  

‘I want to see not just cricketers, but children reuniting with parents,’ he said.

‘I want the same rules for children and cancer and cardiac patients, as for cricketers.’

WA remains closed to residents in ACT, NSW and Victoria (pictured, a woman in Perth's CBD)

WA remains closed to residents in ACT, NSW and Victoria (pictured, a woman in Perth's CBD)

WA remains closed to residents in ACT, NSW and Victoria (pictured, a woman in Perth’s CBD)

Labor leader Anthony Albenese (pictured) has thrown his support behind Mr McGowan's decision to keep his borders tightly closed to some Australian states

Labor leader Anthony Albenese (pictured) has thrown his support behind Mr McGowan's decision to keep his borders tightly closed to some Australian states

Labor leader Anthony Albenese (pictured) has thrown his support behind Mr McGowan’s decision to keep his borders tightly closed to some Australian states

Opposition leader Anthony Albenese, however, threw his support behind Mr McGowan’s decision to keep his borders tightly closed to Australia’s biggest states. 

He praised the ‘extraordinary job’ the premier had done at keeping ‘Western Australians safe’ but admitted he didn’t want to see restrictions hang around for ‘longer than is necessary’.  

When asked if he thought WA should open at the 80 or 90 per cent mark he said: ‘That’s a decision for WA. They should open up whenever it’s safe to do so, based upon the health advice that’s there.’

He told Sky News Australia he wouldn’t ‘snipe’ at state government’s like Prime Minister Scott Morrison had, then compared WA to Sydney. 

‘Here in Sydney where I’m speaking from, a short time ago, kids couldn’t go to school, people couldn’t go to work, people couldn’t engage with people or have people in their homes,’ he said.

‘In WA, they’ve been going to school, they’ve been going to university, they’ve been going to work, they’ve been going to the footy, they’ve been going to restaurants.’

Mr McGowan has steadfastly refused to open his borders until 90 per cent of WA's eligible population is fully vaccinated (pictured, a health care worker holds a Pfizer vaccine)

Mr McGowan has steadfastly refused to open his borders until 90 per cent of WA's eligible population is fully vaccinated (pictured, a health care worker holds a Pfizer vaccine)

Mr McGowan has steadfastly refused to open his borders until 90 per cent of WA’s eligible population is fully vaccinated (pictured, a health care worker holds a Pfizer vaccine)

As of Friday, 68 per cent of Western Australians had received two doses of a Covid vaccine while 82 per cent had received one (pictured, Perth residents in a recovery area post jab)

As of Friday, 68 per cent of Western Australians had received two doses of a Covid vaccine while 82 per cent had received one (pictured, Perth residents in a recovery area post jab)

As of Friday, 68 per cent of Western Australians had received two doses of a Covid vaccine while 82 per cent had received one (pictured, Perth residents in a recovery area post jab)

He said Mr McGowan did an ‘extraordinary’ job in spite of the amount of vaccine supplies he received from the federal government. 

The hardline premier was slammed by Mr Morrison for not adhering to the National Plan which calls for states to do away with border closures once the jab rate hits 80 per cent.

‘The modelling done by the Doherty Institute makes it very clear, and that was what was agreed in the National Plan, not just once but twice, and that is once you reach 80 per cent vaccination rates, then you’re able to move forward,’ Mr Morrison said. 

‘The advice we have from the Secretary of Treasury from Dr Kennedy is once you go over 80 per cent and you keep things locked down, you are doing more harm than good to your economy.

‘You are actually putting a price on Australians, when you continue to put heavy restrictions on your economy, once you get 80 per cent vaccination rates.’ 

Mark McGowan finally unveiled the state's roadmap out of the Covid-19 pandemic a few weeks ago - becoming the last state in the country to do so (pictured, Cottesloe Beach in Perth)

Mark McGowan finally unveiled the state's roadmap out of the Covid-19 pandemic a few weeks ago - becoming the last state in the country to do so (pictured, Cottesloe Beach in Perth)

Mark McGowan finally unveiled the state’s roadmap out of the Covid-19 pandemic a few weeks ago – becoming the last state in the country to do so (pictured, Cottesloe Beach in Perth)

Mr McGowan finally unveiled the state’s roadmap out of the Covid-19 pandemic a few weeks ago – becoming the last state in the country to do so.

Under the ultra-cautious plan, interstate and international travellers will remain banned from entry until late January or early February.

A transition date will be locked in once WA finally hits the 80 per cent double dose target, expected sometime in December.

‘Once we set that date, it will be locked in,’ Mr McGowan said.

‘But if we don’t, on that date, reach the 90 per cent double-dose vaccination, that means there will be further public health social measures put in place.

‘That would mean restrictions on venues, on workplaces, restrictions when it comes to masks, all those sorts of things that we’re desperately trying to avoid.’ 

Less than half of the population in the remote Pilbara region in the state's north have had one jab (pictured, a member of the public poses for a photo after receiving a Pfizer jab)

Less than half of the population in the remote Pilbara region in the state's north have had one jab (pictured, a member of the public poses for a photo after receiving a Pfizer jab)

Less than half of the population in the remote Pilbara region in the state’s north have had one jab (pictured, a member of the public poses for a photo after receiving a Pfizer jab)

Mr McGowan said the government would soon release health department modelling that showed there would be a significant reduction in cases, hospitalisations and deaths as a result of reopening at 90 per cent vaccination.

‘The difference in easing border controls at 90 per cent rather than 80 per cent is 200 West Australian lives are saved,’ he said.

‘The differences are stark. They cannot be ignored, nor can the benefits.’

Less than half of the population in the remote Pilbara region in the state’s north have had one jab. 

As of Friday, 68 per cent of Western Australians had received two doses of a Covid vaccine while 82 per cent had received one. 

Source: Daily Mail UK

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