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Saturday, December 10, 2022

‘Anger and madness’ stirred up by Clive Palmer led to death threats, Mark McGowan tells court

The WA Premier says language used by Clive Palmer created an “anger and madness in the community” that contributed to people targeting his family with death threats.

Mark McGowan has started giving evidence in New South Wales in the defamation case brought against him by Mr Palmer.

He is countersuing with his own claims against the mining magnate in the Federal Court case.

Mr McGowan told the court comments by Mr Palmer that he had acted corruptly “cut to the core of what he was about”.

The comments were in the context of legislation preventing the mining magnate from claiming billions of dollars in compensation over a mining proposal, passed by the WA Parliament in 2020.

A Close-Up Shot Of Wa Premier Mark Mcgowan Speaking With Microphones Below His Chin.
Mr McGowan spoke to reporters as he arrived at court after being ordered to appear in person.,ABC News: Cecilia Connell,

“It was a deep wrong against my character, particularly in the context [that] I was trying to protect the state,” Mr McGowan said.

‘Crazed language and behaviour’: McGowan

Mr McGowan said the suggestion he had behaved corruptly was “deeply offensive”, and gave rise to actions that meant he had a police car parked outside his house 24/7 and was forced to close his electorate office over safety concerns for his staff.

He said these included threatening to kill his children, ramming a car into a power pole outside his Rockingham home, driving a fake armored vehicle past his electorate office, sending a package of powder to his wife, threatening to “sniper attack” his family and to “hunt them down after I am out of office”.

Clive Palmer Walks Into Court
Mr McGowan said Mr Palmer inferred he was a liar when he was trying to make the biggest decision of his life. ,ABC News,

“These things Mr Palmer does, contribute to and promote things … that I have not seen in my lifetime,” he said.

“He arouses this anger and madness in our community.

“It goes on and on. This kind of crazed language and behavior that gives people license to let loose the darker angels of their nature.”

WA border closure ‘not necessary’

Mr McGowan denied lying about having medical advice that said it was “necessary” to close the state’s border in April 2020.

It came after Mr Palmer’s lawyer, Peter Gray SC, read an email to the court, sent from WA Chief Health Officer [CHO] Andy Robertson and Communicable Disease Control Directorate director Paul Armstrong to Mr McGowan on March 29.

It stated Dr Robertson and Dr Armstrong agreed “that closing the border will have the effect of slowing the spread of COVID”.

Wa Chief Health Officer, Andy Robertson, Speaking At A Press Conference.
Heath advice provided by CHO Andy Robertson to the Premier was read to the court. ,ABC News: Keane Bourke,

But it went on to state it “may not reduce the risk significantly further than that which is achieved by measures already in place”.

Mr Gray read another portion of the email saying that closing the border may have a similar risk reduction to shutting down retail shopping.

It said if the border was put in place, it would have a “relatively small impact in relation to all other measures taken to date”.

‘We did what we needed to do’: McGowan

Under cross-examination, Mr Gray put it to Mr McGowan that the health advice did not say, either explicitly or in a different phrasing, that closing the border was necessary.

“I do not agree with that,” Mr McGowan said.

“We were dealing with a deadly virus … we did what we needed to do.”

Mr McGowan said his understanding was that it was necessary to close the border because it would slow the spread of the virus.

“Isn’t it plain Mr McGowan, that Dr Armstrong and Dr Robertson were simply pointing to factors to consider when you take a decision as to whether to close the border? Mr Gray asked.

Mr McGowan replied: “They were giving us advice as to what would work.”

Mr Gray: “They were leaving the decision to you?

Mr McGowan: “I am the Premier.”

Mr Gray said what Mr McGowan told the public was that the medical advice stated closing the border was “necessary”.

“That was not true, was it?” Mr Gray asked.

“I disagree with that statement,” Mr McGowan said.

Mr Gray also quizzed the Premier on the CHO’s comments in September and October that WA could open to states without community transmission, using a “hot spot” definition.

Mr McGowan said he recalled there being a discussion on different models that could be used but they kept coming back to a cautious approach being the most appropriate.

Palmer’s comments ‘unhelpful, hurtful’

Mr McGowan also told the court comments that he had lied about the health advice at the start of the pandemic left him “angry, hurt, offended and exasperated”.

He said 2020, when coronavirus entered the state, was a dramatic and frightening time of high anxiety and terror.

“It was a very difficult and demanding period of my life.

“That someone in that context [would suggest] that I was a liar in what was basically the biggest decision of my life … that cuts to the core of what I stand for.”

Premier quizzed over hydroxychloroquine

He was also grilled on his comments around Mr Palmer’s desire to enter WA in 2020 for the purpose of “progressing” a donation of hydroxychloroquine to the federal government.

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