“The indefinite closure of Western Australia from the rest of the country and the world will have severe and long-lasting ramifications for the state and the nation,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group, said today.
“The decision was taken with no meaningful consultation with industry and with clearly little understanding of the strain that big parts of the state economy are already under given a lack of staff, virtually no labour mobility, deeply stressed supply chains and the significant reputational damage as a place to do business that WA is already suffering.
“WA is now an island within an island. The announcement flies in the face of agreements at national cabinet to reopen, gives industry no certainty when the state will reopen and provides businesses with no guidance about any support they will receive.
“The state now faces the prospect of being shut off from the rest of the country and the world for months. Industry will find it increasingly difficult to service the state and support critical infrastructure. The longer WA remains closed the longer it will slip from consideration around investment, job creation and skills development,” Mr Willox said.
Ai Group WA Head Kristian Stratton said: “The late night announcement sent every possible bad signal about WA being open for business or being a reliable partner for industry. The past two years have been about trying to strike a balance between health and the economy – there is no balance in this decision. For the sake of the local and national economies, the indefinite closure needs to be rethought as soon as possible.
“The state has had two years to prepare the health system to deal with the COVID outbreak and this raises questions as to why they apparently remain so ill-prepared to deal with the far milder Omicron variant.
“The decision lacks courage and perspective and will only mean that WA businesses and their employees will continue to suffer, potentially for many more months,” Mr Stratton said.