Palmer, McGowan trial delay due to borders

Michael Ramsey |

Clive Palmer’s defamation claim against West Australian Premier Mark McGowan is set to be further delayed as a result of the WA border reopening.

Mr McGowan had been due this week to fly to Sydney, where he was scheduled to give evidence in the Federal Court from February 26 to 28.

The weekend sittings were scheduled to ensure Mr McGowan would not miss any days of parliament when he isolated upon returning to Perth.

But with WA poised to reopen its borders, Justice Michael Lee on Monday ordered that the proceedings instead be heard from March 7 to 9.

The premier last week announced WA’s borders will reopen to vaccinated travellers from March 3, removing the requirement to quarantine for seven days.

He said he intended to isolate for a week upon returning to Perth from giving evidence in the defamation matter, “just so there can be no argument that somehow this (reopening date) was put in place to benefit myself”.

The premier’s office on Tuesday said that remained the case.

“As a result of the change made by the court, this means the premier will now appear in court on March 7 to give evidence,” a spokeswoman said.

“As the premier indicated on Friday, on return to Perth he will still complete seven days of quarantine, leaving only to travel directly to the secure telepresence room in West Perth to be part of the National Cabinet meeting on the 11th of March, unless a secure link can be established in quarantine.”

Mr Palmer launched a defamation action against Mr McGowan in August 2020, claiming some public comments had damaged the Queensland businessman’s reputation.

The premier lodged a counter-claim that Mr Palmer defamed him in several interviews and statements.

The billionaire mining magnate last week gave evidence in the matter, claiming he had feared for his safety after the WA government passed extraordinary legislation aimed at quashing his damages claim against the state.

Referring to the fictional character James Bond and his “licence to kill”, Mr Palmer told the court: “I didn’t know what the limits might be.”