West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has ripped into the Prime Minister over a decision to boycott the Winter Olympics in China, saying the move is “pretty inexplicable”.
Seemingly in a fighting mood, Mr McGowan also unleashed a spray on the NSW government over its alleged ingratitude for WA’s contribution to the bailouts that have propped up the eastern state during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Scott Morrison on Wednesday said he was “standing up for Australia’s interests” by joining the US in not sending representatives to the Olympics in Beijing next year.
Britain and Canada have also joined the boycott, but Mr McGowan expressed disappointment in Australia’s position.
“I don’t understand why we’ve done that. The Olympics should be above politics,” he told reporters on Thursday.
Mr McGowan has repeatedly weighed in on Australia’s ailing relationship with China and on Thursday renewed his plea for “more diplomatic language” from the Morrison government.
But he said he was “not really” concerned the boycott would affect WA’s vital trading relationship with China.
“We obviously want to have a good relationship with China,” he said.
“We obviously have a view that we should be more diplomatic towards China.
“Obviously, this move around the Olympics I find pretty inexplicable. I think sport, particularly the Olympics, should be above politics.”
During the same press conference, Mr McGowan accused the NSW government of being ungrateful to WA.
It came after NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet labelled GST top-up payments to WA “totally unjustifiable”, having previously referred to Mr McGowan as the fictional character Gollum.
“I might not have handled that situation in the most diplomatic way – calling him Mark McGollum – but sometimes you need a bit of colour to draw attention to a travesty,” Mr Perrottet said on Wednesday.
Mr McGowan hit back on Thursday, noting the impact of the NSW government’s reluctance to lock down Sydney during the Delta outbreak.
“When NSW didn’t crack down on Covid in June, they said ‘our gold standard contact tracing system will manage it’,” Mr McGowan told reporters.
“Then it got away from them because their gold standard contact tracing system didn’t work and therefore they’ve had mass lockdowns, they’ve had the economy tank, they’ve had hundreds of people die as a consequence of that decision.”
WA’s economy had meanwhile “flourished” and the state’s revenue had been diverted to pay for billions of dollars in disaster payments to NSW, he said.
“Obviously, the debt that has accrued to the Commonwealth, we will have to play a major part in repaying as well,” Mr McGowan said.
“So it would just be great if maybe that was recognised by the NSW government – that WA supported them in their time of need.”
The Premier said WA had also provided contact tracing support, medical teams and medical supplies to NSW.
“Never had a word of thanks — nothing from the NSW government,” he said.
“So it’s a bit rich now that they come and say because of their failures they now want to take revenue from WA even though we’ve supported them the whole way along.
“It’s pretty shocking actually … you never get much self-reflection from the NSW government but perhaps they ought to look in the mirror and see what they’ve done and maybe appreciate that the rest of the country, particularly WA … helped them during their time of need.”
‘Not justice’: PM’s anger over Gladys
Scott Morrison has come out swinging after hearing the news that Gladys Berejiklian will not run for Warringah.
Australia’s $7 billion move to boost military
Peter Dutton has confirmed Australia’s $7 billion defence acquisition, adding that regional “instability” was a key motivator behind the move.
Vile crime that is only getting worse
An inquiry into child exploitation has been told of shocking details about the number of sex abuse referrals to commonwealth prosecutors.