The Latest: Australia court upholds state's border closure

Full Screen
1 / 15

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

People line up outside a popular pub and restaurant in St Kilda in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Melbourne, Australia's former coronavirus hot spot, emerged from a lockdown at midnight Tuesday, restaurants, cafes and bars were allowed to open and outdoor contact sports can resume. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s highest court on Friday upheld a state’s border closure and dismissed billionaire businessman Clive Palmer’s argument that the pandemic measure was unconstitutional.

The seven High Court judges ruled that Western Australia’s state border closure to non-essential travel applied during “a hazard in the nature of a plague or epidemic” complied with the constitution.

The state shut its border to the rest of Australia on April 5 and has maintained the travel restriction despite not recording a case of COVID-19 community transmission since April 11.

The state government argues the measure has enabled its iron ore miners to maintain output and earn their highest prices in six years while their main rivals in Brazil have had production disrupted by pandemic absenteeism.

Palmer, a mining magnate, took court action in May when he was refused permission to enter Australia’s largest state.

His lawyers had argued that the border restriction unreasonably infringed upon Australians’ constitutional right to free travel between states.

All Australian states and territories have used border restrictions to curb a second wave of infections and a court ruling against Western Australia could have impacted their pandemic responses.

___