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Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has hit out at Prime Minister Scott Morrison over an “odd” comment directed at some states, asking them to come out of "the cave".
Mr McGowan has been staunch in his state’s strict border policies, and last week he announced a tough"extreme risk" restriction for NSW residents looking to enter the state including no entries on compassionate grounds.
The PM told The Today Show on Tuesday getting out of lockdown and reopening the country is like the children’s movie The Croods, which is an animated film about cave people.
“People wanted to stay in the cave … and that young girl, she wanted to go out and live again and deal with the challenges of living in a different world," Mr Morrison told the program.
"Covid is a new, different world, and we need to get out there and live in it. We can't stay in the cave, and we can get out of it safely."
Mr McGowan took umbrage with The Croods reference.
“It was an odd thing to say,” he said.
“I think everyone would rather just see the Commonwealth look beyond New South Wales and actually appreciate what life is like here in WA.
“We currently have no restrictions within our state, a great quality of life, and a remarkably strong economy which is funding the relief efforts in other parts of the country.
“West Aussies just want decisions that consider the circumstances of all states and territories, not just Sydney.”
He told the media on Monday, "Just because the NSW government has made a mess of it doesn't mean the rest of us should suffer”.
'We need to get on with it'
The PM has had issues getting every state onside with the reopening plan. He has insisted high case numbers will not derail the plan which relies on Doherty Institute modelling.
Mr Morrison said negative economic and mental health impacts outweigh benefits when 70 and 80 per cent immunisation coverage is reached.
"That's the advice, that's the basis for the plan. We've all signed up to it, we need to get on with it," he told the Seven Network.
The WA Premier wants new modelling given high levels of virus circulating in NSW which reported 753 new local cases on Tuesday. A further 919 NSW cases were announced on Wednesday.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk argues the initial research was based on having 30 cases in the community.
The Doherty Institute will provide updated advice to national cabinet on Friday.
In a statement, the Doherty Institute said opening up at hundreds of cases nationally a day would be possible at 70 per cent vaccination coverage.
"However, we will need vigilant public health interventions with higher case loads," it said.
The institute said hitting that vaccination rate would make it easier to live with the virus, similar to the flu.
"However, it won't be possible to maintain a situation where there are no cases at all."
Labor leader Anthony Albanese accused the prime minister of pretending the report ruled out lockdowns at 70 per cent coverage.
"Mr Morrison is a barrier to the end of the tunnel, not the light. He's the gaslight on the hill," Mr Albanese told Labor MPs and senators in Canberra.
He said Mr Morrison desperately wanted to argue he was pro-freedom while casting everyone else as being against reopening.
The prime minister insists the opposition leader is undermining the plan and hoping the government fails for political gain.
Vaccination targets still months away
Mr Morrison remains optimistic the Queensland government won't keep its border shut with NSW if high case numbers continue.
"It doesn't matter whether it's 30 cases or 800 cases, the conclusions are the same and that's what the Doherty Institute said last night," he told the Nine Network.
He dismissed the federal-state bickering as a "bit of noise" with the vaccination targets still months away from being reached.
"We can't stay in the cave and we can get out of it safely."
The Doherty modelling recommends a staged reopening at 70 and 80 per cent with high-quality preventative measures remaining in place.
As of Tuesday, Australia has fully vaccinated 30.27 per cent of its population aged 16 and over and 52.78 have received one jab.
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