Western Australia’s hard border is continuing to cause headaches for the defamation case between Premier Mark McGowan and billionaire Clive Palmer.
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan is yet to make an application to give evidence via video link at his defamation trial against billionaire Clive Palmer.
During a NSW Federal Court hearing on Thursday, Justice Michael Lee again said he wanted Mr McGowan to appear at the January trial in person after previously flagging his preference.
“This will be the last time that we’re going to have a remote hearing, you’ll be pleased to know … we’re going to be in person,” Justice Lee said.
But the Premier’s barrister Lyndelle Barnett said she might still make an application for Mr McGowan to give evidence remotely.
“There hasn’t yet been a determination on the date that the WA hard border will come down, so I’ll take some instruction,” she said.
Under WA’s current border restriction, NSW is classified as a “high risk” state, which means anyone permitted entry to WA must self-quarantine at a suitable premises for 14 days.
Justice Lee asked when Ms Barnett would be in a position to make the application and she replied that her instructor would speak to the Premier later on Thursday.
“We should know more, hopefully, by tomorrow at the latest, and then we can inform Your Honour and my learned friend whether that application is to be made,” Ms Barnett said.
Justice Lee said he would consider any application on its merits.
“I want to go back to having trials in the usual way,” Justice Lee said.
Ms Barnett said she understood the benefit of an in-person hearing.
“In my submission, the counter argument would be where there would be requirements on Mr McGowan and, as I understand it Mr Palmer, for quarantine upon return to their home jurisdictions, whether in those circumstances AVL is a preferable course,” she said.
The defamation case was first brought by Mr Palmer after the Premier described him as an “enemy of the state”.
Mr McGowan then launched a counterclaim, alleging Mr Palmer defamed him in several interviews, including by suggesting he accepted bribes from Chinese interests.
The matter will next return to court on December 3.
Mr Palmer previously lost a legal challenge to WA’s border regime.