WA health chief 'on same page' as premier

Michael Ramsey
·2-min read

States and territories are united in trying to eliminate COVID-19 within the community despite political bickering, Western Australia's chief health officer says.

In a relatively rare interview, Andy Robertson has denied being muzzled and insisted he is at one with Premier Mark McGowan on managing the pandemic.

The premier has faced criticism from the NSW government after he called upon the state to apply harsher restrictions to "crush and kill" the virus.

Dr Robertson says the aim of quashing community transmission should not be confused with trying to eliminate the virus entirely.

"I think we are on the same page," he told ABC radio Perth on Tuesday.

"What we're trying to do and I think what every other jurisdiction is trying to do is get to that no community transmission.

"We appreciate that we're not going to eliminate the disease ... we continue to get cases in our hotel quarantine and every state is getting that."

The premier on Tuesday defended his choice of words.

"This is all just semantics," he told reporters.

"My view is if the virus is in the community, we kill it, we get rid of it, we don't have it. That's the best outcome for Western Australia and the entire country.

"NSW seems to think it's OK to have the virus ticking along in the community and you just deal with it in individual suburbs and individual venues. I'd just rather get rid of the virus."

Unlike his counterparts in other states, Dr Robertson has made few public appearances in recent months.

He made headlines in October when he gave evidence to a parliamentary committee, contradicting the premier's claim that the border controls implemented by other states were "not as strong as ours".

WA removed its hard borders the following month but has since placed NSW, Victoria and Queensland into higher-risk categories, denying entry to anyone without exemptions.

Dr Robertson said he had a busy schedule and had not been required to appear as frequently as others due to the lack of serious outbreaks in WA.

"I'm not being muzzled or hidden away by anybody," he said.

He said WA's hard border to Queensland would remain in place for at least a fortnight, citing the need to identify any undetected community cases after a highly contagious UK coronavirus strain was detected in Greater Brisbane.

Dr Robertson backed the "hard and fast" lockdowns Brisbane and Adelaide had entered to quash outbreaks, saying WA would likely follow suit in similar circumstances.