West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has delayed the state’s border reopening over lagging vaccine booster rates and high circulation of the Omicron variant.
The move has been seen as a way to protect the mining industry in Western Australia which accounts for one-third of Australia’s total mines and roughly 3 percent of the country’s GDP.
McGowan made the announcement to postpone at a press conference earlier this week, where he set a booster target rate of 80-90% before the state could reconsider reopening. No estimated date has been given for when Western Australia could reach such a target. Although currently 88.9% of the population over 12 is double vaccinated, only 25.8% of over-16s have received their booster jab.
In reaction, opposition leaders Mia Davies and David Honey warned that keeping the border shut would see immunity wane amongst groups who have already received their boosters and called on the Premier to reopen it.
Expect more opposition to the lockdown extension over the next few days, as McGowan continues to push his citizens to get their booster dose. As there are no set plans or target measures for reopening, McGowan will likely have to succumb to opposition pressure within the next few weeks.
Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.
Margaux is an Analyst and regular contributor to The Daily Brief, specializing in geopolitical and security issues in the Middle East.