McGowan may ask to testify remotely

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Premier Mark McGowan may apply to give his evidence remotely in billionaire Clive Palmer's defamation lawsuit if the West Australian border isn't opened by January 31.

The state has indicated it will ease hardline border measures when 90 per cent of its 12-plus population is double-dosed, expected between late January and early February.

In the Federal Court on Thursday, when the judge sat in Sydney and the parties appeared via video-link, Mr McGowan's barrister Lyndelle Barnett flagged a possible application for the premier to give evidence remotely.

The trial, which also involves a counterclaim by Mr McGowan that Mr Palmer defamed him, is due to start in Sydney on January 31.

But Ms Barnett said no set date had been determined for the easing of hardline border measures which currently would require her client to quarantine on his return to WA if he travelled to Sydney.

Justice Michael Lee said Thursday was the last time a remote hearing would be held in the case, describing video-link hearings as "suboptimal".

"I want to go back to having trials in the usual way," he said.

Mr Palmer last year filed a lawsuit against the premier, claiming his public comments, including labelling him the "enemy of West Australia", had damaged his reputation.

Mr McGowan lodged his own counter-claim a month later claiming Mr Palmer defamed him in several interviews.

Ms Barnett on Thursday argued over the "inadequacy" of particulars in Mr Palmer's action which allege "an abuse of position" by Mr McGowan.

Background to the case includes claims relating to the circumstances surrounding WA legislation which prevented Mr Palmer and his company Mineralogy from suing the state for billions of dollars.

Ms Barnett said the apparent allegation was that steps were taken to effectively expunge Mr Palmer's rights.

"It is put as 'an abuse of power', but we say how?" she said.

She also referred to the premier's conduct being described as "morally despicable".

"Conduct can be morally despicable but not amount to an abuse of position," she said.

But Mr Palmer's barrister Peter Gray disagreed.

He referred to aspects of the legislation which he said indicated "disgraceful and dishonourable" conduct, as well as an "abuse of Mr McGowan's position as premier".

Justice Lee listed the matter for a further case management hearing on December 3.

Mr Palmer in October lost his High Court battle with WA over the legislation preventing him and his company Mineralogy from suing the state.

He was seeking up to $30 billion from WA taxpayers, claiming legislation, introduced by the McGowan Labor government and hastily passed with the support of opposition parties, is unconstitutional.

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