The war of words between Scott Morrison and one state’s premier continues, with the PM insisting they can’t have it both ways.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has put WA Premier Mark McGowan on notice after he blamed the federal government for problems with his state’s health system.
Mr McGowan has launched a fresh attack on the government, insisting WA cannot open up due to the pressures Commonwealth programs are placing on the state’s hospital system.
“There are actually a number of people occupying hospital beds as we speak who should actually be managed by the NDIS and a number of others who should be in aged care,” he said.
“So there’s actually in the hundreds who we can’t find spots for in those areas, which is putting huge pressure on the system”.
But the prime minister said the argument didn’t stack up and urged Mr McGowan to dip into the state’s budget surplus to boost hospital funding.
“Well, I don‘t buy that, because since we came to government we’ve increased funding to WA hospitals by 72.8 per cent, Mr Morrison said on Tuesday.
“So, we’ve increased funding to state hospitals in Western Australia four times the rate of the Western Australian state government.
“Now, that was there to fund hospitals. Western Australia’s government has been very clear about their surplus, and I congratulate them on the surplus. But, that surplus was also the product of that GST revenue that I delivered as part of WA getting its fair share.
“So, you can’t sort of have it both ways. You can’t say, ‘I’ve got a surplus, but I’m not spending enough money on state hospitals.’”
In an effort to relieve the strain in the state’s hospitals about half of elective surgeries in WA have been postponed.
The decision followed criticism WA has failed to bolster capacity to prepare for future outbreaks.
The war of words between the two leaders was sparked earlier this month when the WA premier declared he would be hesitant to open the state’s borders even when the state reached 80 per cent vaccination target.
Mr McGowan told reporters he could not understand pressure of those from eastern states to open his state up.
Te AFL has chosen Perth to host this year’s AFL grand final, with Mr McGowan attributing the success to his state’s Covid-free status.
He said Western Australia’s economy was performing better than the majority of states and supporting the national economy at a difficult time.
“There is another Australia outside of Sydney that is open, successful, doing well and supporting Sydney,” he said.
“I can’t understand for the life of me why there are people over there saying we should deliberately unpick ourselves.
“That somehow we should all be like Sydney and locked down and infected with no one going to work, and the economy and people dying.”
The prime minister dismissed suggestions the two leaders had a strained relationship.
“It‘s not, it’s actually not about me or Mark at all. We actually get on very well and we work together very constructively. And, so, that’s not the point. The point is just how you manage Covid-19,” he said.
“We’ve worked together closely on so many parts of the response, and Western Australia has done very well.
“I want Western Australia to do well in the future, and that means we are going to have to go, going to have to go through a gear change, because you’ve got to be able to live with the virus at some point.”
The comments are in stark contrast to those posted to Mr McGowan’s Facebook page on Monday evening, where he said the Commonwealth’s insistence he reopen WA was “odd”.
“As I‘ve repeatedly said – Western Australia will remove our controlled border with other states in the future, when it is safe to do so, and in line with the health advice and the national plan,” Mr McGowan wrote.
“Some people want us to remove our border controls with Sydney when only 70 per cent of adults are vaccinated (which is only 56 per cent of the overall population).
“By knowingly letting the virus in, it would mean we‘d have hundreds of people die, have to wind back our local freedoms, introduce restrictions and shut down large parts of our economy.
“I don‘t want to do that … It’s just odd for the Commonwealth government to keep arguing for this – to be clear, removing ALL travel restrictions, domestic or international, is not part of the national plan at either 70 or 80 per cent.”
He stated he would open WA’s borders once an “overwhelming majority” of residents were vaccinated, but warned it could be some months behind the rest of the nation.
“The Commonwealth government should be more concerned about getting the current situation under control, and trying to spare the rest of the country from the fate that NSW is suffering.”
Originally published as Scott Morrison urges WA Premier Mark McGowan to boost hospital funding