Jacqui Lambie’s former chief of staff details ‘vile, profane, vulgar’ tirades in unfair dismissal case


Senator Jacqui Lambie’s former chief of staff has told a court staff members were subject to “profane and vulgar language” on a daily basis and feared for their safety after a well-publicised terrorist threat.

Rob Messenger, and his wife Fern, who was Ms Lambie’s office manager, claim they were unfairly dismissed by the senator in May 2017 following complaints about workplace health and safety.

Mr Messenger, a former Queensland state MP for the National Party, first met Senator Lambie in 2013 when she was running for the Senate as a member of Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party.

He and his wife Fern joined Senator Lambie when she was elected to parliament and stayed with her as she broke away from Mr Palmer’s party to become an independent — at which point Mr Messenger said the workload significantly increased.

They worked with Senator Lambie until they were dismissed in 2017.

The cause of that dismissal is the subject of a Fair Work complaint dating back to that year.

Three years later, the case is now before Justice John Snaden in the Federal Court, where the Messengers are representing themselves.

Court told of ‘vile, profane, vulgar language’ in workplace

In his evidence, Mr Messenger told the court a number of staff had complained to him about Senator Lambie’s language.

“It became wearing. Many of the comments had sexual connotations, were inappropriate and gross.”

He said that during a meeting with the senator he told her she was being inappropriate.

“I said, ‘Jac, the staff have complained to us … there are certain swear words you used that could be sexual harassment if a complaint was made,'” he said.

Rob Messenger with Clive Palmer in 2014, when Mr Messenger stood as a federal PUP candidate.(ABC Open: Brad Marsellos)

Mr Messenger detailed a time when Senator Lambie “made sensational comments” on radio about “her sex life and her personal hygiene”.

“As a result of that radio interview, the office then became the focal point for a lot of angry community feedback,” he said.

He said he complained to her about the phone calls and abuse the office was dealing with.

“[I told her] the best way to mitigate her public reputation was to issue an apology,” he said.

Mr Messenger also said he’d spoken to the senator about discussing her sex life in the office.

“‘I said, ‘Jacqui, you can’t come into the workplace being grumpy and then announcing to all the staff that you haven’t got laid in a long time,'” he said.

“You can’t come into the workplace saying, ‘I desperately need a root.'”

Staff member found death threat, court told

Mr Messenger said at times he felt like he was Senator Lambie’s personal bodyguard, particularly during an interaction with “angry” high school students in which he feared for both his and the senator’s safety.

He told the court he had raised the issue of a lack of personal protection on a regular basis.

He also told the court he and other staff would work extremely long hours, saying they averaged 100 hours per week.

“We were expected to work during our time off. There wasn’t a time we had recreational leave during [our] time with [Senator] Lambie that we didn’t work,” he said.

He also alleged Senator Lambie had excessively bullied a staff member, who he claimed resigned, citing mental health.

Rob Messenger and his wife Fern arrive at court
Former Jacqui Lambie staffer Rob Messenger and his wife Fern are claiming unfair dismissal.(ABC News: Laura Beavis)

Mr Messenger said this same staff member had opened a death threat meant for Senator Lambie.

He told the court the letter said that if Senator Lambie did not convert to sharia law, the authors would attack her office when she least expected it and behead her.

Mr Messenger took the complaint to Senator Lambie and the office was temporarily closed until Tasmanian police arrived.

Mr Messenger said staff wanted to keep the office closed, but Senator Lambie insisted on reopening it.

He also claimed Senator Lambie refused to take steps to upgrade security at the electoral office despite the threat and complaints.

Mr Messenger’s evidence to the hearing was regularly interrupted by both Nick Harrington, the counsel for Ms Lambie, and Judge Snaden.

Both called him out for entering irrelevant evidence and straying from the statement of claim, and asked him to be more specific.

The hearing is expected to continue until the end of the month.

Senator Lambie has yet to tell her side of the story and is expected to give evidence at a later date.



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IBM earnings: Chief executive’s first big move will be more scrutinized than the numbers


Arvind Krishna took over as IBM chief executive earlier this year.


MARKETWATCH PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/GETTY IMAGES

International Business Machines Corp.’s overshadowed its own earnings report with plans to spin off its datacenter outsourcing business.

IBM
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is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings after the bell on Monday, after surprising the tech world Oct. 8 by announcing it would execute a tax-free spinoff of its managed infrastructure services unit, or its IT outsourcing business, sending shares up 6% on the day. The spinoff, which IBM dubs “Newco” for now, is currently part of the company’s Global Technology Services division and accounts for an estimated $19 billion in annual revenue, compared with the remaining company’s $59 billion in revenue.

IBM said Newco, which will focus on modernizing the IT infrastructures of clients and managing multi-cloud environments, will be twice as large as its nearest competitor, which IBM did not name. Analysts listed competitors in the space as DXC Technology Co.
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Microsoft Corp.
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Oracle Corp.
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and Rackspace Technology Inc.
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What’s left behind is IBM’s hardware, software and services business that IBM Chief Executive Arvind Krishna said would be “laser-focused” on what the company sees as a $1 trillion hybrid-cloud market. IBM has been making grand claims about its commitment to be the leader in hybrid cloud since it announced its $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat two years ago. In a hybrid-cloud arrangement, a company keeps some of its data in a public cloud service and some of its data on servers on its own premises, often for regulatory reasons, such as in the cases of financial institutions or health-care facilities.

Evercore ISI analyst Amit Daryanani, who has an in-line rating and a $137 target price, said the spinoff would create a “structurally better asset” that gibes executives and investors a true focus.

“We think this is a positive step for IBM to further simplify their narrative and drive a more consistent growth narrative,” Daryanani said.

IBM provided estimates for its third-quarter results along with the announcement, so investors already know what numbers are coming. They are likely to care more about details on how the company plans to execute the spinoff, so check the earnings call for the new chief executive’s discussion of his first big move at the helm of Big Blue.

What to expect

Earnings: IBM provided preliminary earnings of $2.58 a share when it announced the spinoff earlier in the month. Of the 12 analysts surveyed by FactSet, IBM on average is expected to post adjusted earnings of $2.57 a share, up from the $2.55 a share expected at the beginning of the quarter, but down from the $2.68 a share reported in the year-ago third quarter. Estimize, a software platform that uses crowdsourcing from hedge-fund executives, brokerages, buy-side analysts and others, calls for earnings of $2.62 a share.

Revenue: IBM forecast preliminary revenue of $17.6 billion. Wall Street expects revenue of $17.62 billion from IBM, according to 10 analysts polled by FactSet. That’s up from the $17.15 billion forecast at the beginning of the quarter, but down from the $18.03 billion reported in the year-ago quarter. Estimize expects revenue of $17.75 billion.

Stock movement: Over the third quarter, IBM shares rose 0.8%, compared with a 7.6% rise on the Dow Jones Industrial Average
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an 8.5% on the S&P 500 index
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and a 11% on the Nasdaq Composite Index
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What analysts are saying

Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi, who has a market-perform rating and a $125 price target, expressed a bit of skepticism about the spinoff, questioning whether it was “value creation or shuffling deck chairs.”

“IBM may not have a major update or an analyst day until at least midyear, and in the meanwhile, Q3 results are known, reported Q4 EPS will be very weak (~$2 vs. consensus of >$4) due to its restructuring charge, and execution issues around the spin are non-trivial,” Sacconaghi said.

Citi Research analyst Jim Suva, who has a neutral rating and a $140 price target, said even though the spinoff was a positive change for IBM, enterprise spending was still sketchy in the meantime.

“We believe there remains a lot of volatility with mixed nature of demand with several enterprise clients likely looking at breaking up their projects into smaller pieces and smaller contracts that have rapid results and less risk around completion dates/timelines and deliverables,” Suva said.

MoffettNathanson analyst Lisa Ellis, who has a sell rating and a $125 price target on IBM, said the move was one she and other investors had “been hoping for” but said it would take a while for the benefits to kick in.

“While strategically compelling, the spin does not create immediate financial benefits: like most divorces, it is expensive and arduous,” Ellis said. “It’s not expected to be completed until late 2021, and IBM will be taking a total of $4.8 B in charges in 2020 and 2021 for restructuring and transaction related costs, without significant near-term gains – IBM is reinvesting the cost savings from the restructuring.”

Of the 15 analysts who cover IBM, four have buy or overweight ratings, nine have hold ratings and two have sell or underweight ratings, with an average price target of $137.08.



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CBA chief says no bank wants to facilitate ‘heinous crimes’


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CBA has committed to boosting staff training for spotting money laundering and terrorism financing, yet the bank’s most recent annual report lists failure to comply with AML laws among its top three compliance risk exposures.

“There’s an enormous amount of effort that’s going into making sure we comply with this critically important AML and CTF laws,” Mr Comyn said. “From our perspective, it’s been a very substantial investment over many years now responding to some of our identified shortcomings.”

The comments come as Westpac settled the largest fine in corporate history after AUSTRAC found it had breached anti-money laundering laws 23 million times by failing to properly report suspicious payments linked to its correspondent bank partners, some used to pay for live child sex shows in the Philippines.

The scandal cost Westpac chief Brian Hartzer and chair Lindsay Maxsted their jobs and has triggered two major shareholder class actions.

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“Of course no financial institution wants to find itself … facilitating any of those heinous crimes,” Mr Comyn said.

The approach taken by major banks towards anti-money laundering compliance has been thrust into the spotlight after an investigation by The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, New York Times and 60 Minutes found Westpac had maintained a correspondent bank relationship with Puerto Rican-based Euro Pacific until 2018.

Westpac overlooked a number of red flags to partner with the offshore bank, including the bank’s location in a known tax haven and a president with a history of misconduct.

Euro Pacific is now at the centre of the largest multi-national investigation into tax evasion and money laundering and is regarded as the highest threat to Australia’s national security by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

Australian Tax Office deputy commissioner Will Day said it was more important than ever to stamp out tax evasion and financial crime.

“We never lose sight of the fact that tax crime is not victimless,” Mr Day said. “Tax criminals take away from that revenue that supports those really important functions. I guess that’s important at any time, but even more so during a pandemic.”

CBA’s annual report said social distancing restrictions had made it harder to comply with customer verification obligations under the AML-CTF Act and special relief, including video calls, had been provided by AUSTRAC.

“There is currently a higher risk of financial crime because of increased opportunities through the number of financial support packages available, combined with an increase in the number of vulnerable people and businesses,” CBA’s annual report said.

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Tasmania Fire Service chief lashes union over alleged ‘degrading’ behaviour


Senior staff within Tasmania’s fire department are refusing to meet with union representatives after an explosive meeting that the state’s fire chief alleges left employees “anxious and concerned”.

Tasmania Fire Service chief officer Chris Arnol emailed all staff this week to lash United Firefighters Union for behaviour he said “can only be described as inappropriate and degrading”.

“No-one needs to raise their voice, talk over, use aggressive tones and body language, and continually interrupt others to get their point across,” he said, in in an email obtained by the ABC.

“This is not the first time this type of behaviour has occurred and is far more than ‘minor’ as the UFUA claims, which is evidenced by the distress it has caused a number of people on the receiving end,” the text reads.

“Until … this pattern of behaviour stops, the Deputy Secretary [of the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management] has advised the State Fire Commission that Business and Executive Services employees will not attend meetings with representatives of the UFU.”

Mr Arnol’s email said he supported the department’s position, calling on TFS employees to “speak up” if they witnessed disrespectful behaviour.

Not all TFS personnel are happy with Mr Arnol’s intervention.(ABC RN/Jess Davis)

Neither the TFS nor United Firefighters Union would comment more specifically on the allegations.

However, some staff appeared to take umbrage at Mr Arnol’s all-staff email.

Tasmanian Fire Service chief Chris Arnol on stage behind a podium
Chris Arnol said he was committed to working cooperatively with the United Firefighters Union.(Supplied: Rose Grant)

One employee who identified themself as a union member replied to suggest that if the matter involving union representatives was serious, it should be referred to police.

“If you are requesting a ‘commitment to values’ for union members, can I suggest a commitment of ‘no deliberate delay’ by all negotiating,” the person wrote.

Another person replied: “Also over the years this has been happening with some senior management but no-one has been concerned then.”

A third employee raised four points of concern related to broader workplace health and safety issues — including the promotion of a staff member facing serious criminal charges, which have apparently since been dropped — saying issues were not confined to the union’s conduct.

Another example was alleged slow progress on four hazard reports related to remote firefighting concerns.

“Where is the plan and desire to actually reconfigure our bush firefighting capability to meet the needs of today [let alone tomorrow],” the person wrote to Mr Arnol.

“None of the above should diminish the seriousness of the incident you have alluded to … it’s just that it’s a bit disrespectful of the organisation to pick and choose when to play the game.”

In a statement to the ABC, Mr Arnol said he was committed to working cooperatively with the United Firefighters Union.

“However, in recent times there have been several instances of disrespectful and intimidatory behaviour towards members of staff displayed by some members of the UFUA (Tas),” Mr Arnol said.

United Firefighters Union Tasmania senior industrial officer Leigh Hills declined to make broad comment while an internal TFS inquiry was underway.

“A work health and safety issue was raised in regards to the United Firefighters Union and we’re currently dealing with that via the state fire commission,” Mr Hills said.



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MPs’ ‘loose talk’ drives Australia’s relationship with China to very low point, former defence chief warns | Australian foreign policy


China is Australia’s partner, not an enemy, the former Australian defence chief Angus Houston has declared, as he accused some politicians of engaging in “loose talk” that had helped drive the relationship between Canberra and Beijing to “a very low point”.

As BHP revealed some Chinese customers had recently deferred coal purchases from the mining giant, Houston warned of the impact of ill-disciplined public comments and called for a “reset” of the relationship.

The ex-ADF boss said Australia needed China to aid its economic recovery from the Covid-19 recession and the process of trade diversification would take many years to achieve.

“China is our partner, China is not our enemy – let’s get that very straight,” Houston said during an event hosted by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute on Thursday.

Australian coal has reportedly become the latest target of Chinese authorities, prompting the Morrison government to seek assurances from Beijing. BHP confirmed late on Wednesday it was seeing some impacts first hand.

The chairman of the mining company, Ken MacKenzie, said BHP understood “there may be some new developments relating to how China plans and moderates imports versus their own domestic coal production”.

“Our commercial team has recently received deferment requests from some of our Chinese customers,” MacKenzie told reporters after BHP’s annual general meeting. “But we have longstanding relationships with our customers in China and we’re working with them to understand the situation more comprehensively.”

MacKenzie did not specify the volume of affected purchases but added it “would be concerning if the rumours are true regarding import restrictions for Australian coal into China”.

Reports by S&P Global Platts and Argus Media indicated China’s customs authorities had told several state-owned steelmakers and power plants to immediately stop importing Australian thermal and coking coal.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, released this week, Australian coal prices have been “depressed by China’s apparent tightening of import restrictions and by Japan’s intention to phase out inefficient coal-fired power plants by 2030”.

MacKenzie argued coking coal imports from Australia to China had increased this year and he predicted China’s strong emergence from the Covid crisis would drive further demand for resources. Australia was well placed to support China’s economic recovery, the BHP boss said.

China has taken a range of actions against Australian exporters this year, including imposing prohibitive tariffs on barley, suspending imports from five red meat processing plants and launching two trade investigations into wine.

The Australian government, which copped flak from China for taking an early and forthright position in support of an independent international inquiry into Covid-19, insists it will not be deterred by economic pressure from standing up for its values.

Houston noted the reports about coal exports being restricted and highlighted Australia’s strong economic ties with China as he called for some sort of “circuit breaker” in the relationship.

He said the latest developments had occurred in the context of increasing tensions between the United States and China.

“Our number one alliance partner is at loggerheads with our number one trading partner,” Houston said. “I think there’s been some, shall I say, loose talk from here in Australia where we’ve seen some comments basically make the circumstances a little worse than they needed to be.”

Houston said some messages from parliamentarians were “ill-disciplined” although he did not name any particular members.

The Labor opposition has previously accused the cabinet of failing to show leadership on the China relationship, leaving a void for hawkish backbenchers to fill with sometimes inflammatory comments.

Houston argued the prime minister, Scott Morrison, the foreign minister, Marise Payne, and the trade minister, Simon Birmingham, had primary responsibility to make statements on the relationship.

“I think our relationship at the moment is at a very low point,” he said.

Houston said while there had been a “number of events” over the course of this year, Australia’s decision in 2018 to exclude Huawei from the 5G network was one of the major factors in the current tensions.

“We need to take a hard look at our relationship with China, I think we need a reset, we need a circuit breaker, because really if we’re going to come out of this recession that we have at the moment because of Covid-19, we need China.”

Australia’s economy was integrated with China’s to the extent that both sides needed to be able to work effectively together and to engage with mutual respect, Houston said. China and Australia needed to respect each other’s sovereignty.

“They’re not going to go away, they’re going to get stronger, they are going to be a force that we have to deal with, so we’d better work out the best way to deal with them.”

Houston said Australia also needed to hold firm to its values and interests and work with like-minded countries, including through the forums such as the Quad and Asean. He suggested a need to “construct a new strategic architecture in the region”.

He said he was “very encouraged” by the outcomes from the Quad meeting in Tokyo last week when Payne met with her counterparts from Japan, the US and India and they agreed to jointly “promote a stable, resilient and inclusive Indo-Pacific”.

The Lowy Institute event, focusing on the rise of China, also featured the former US defence secretary James Mattis, who predicted “more constructive engagement” between America and China in the new year – although he would not say who he would back in the presidential election next month.

Mattis said he could not understand “why China is doing much of what it’s doing”, including militarising disputed features in the South China Sea and retreating from the “one country, two systems” commitments to Hong Kong.

He criticised China for taking “economic retaliation” against Australia and for engaging in so-called wolf warrior diplomacy with numerous countries. “There is something driving this, a vulnerability somewhere that I don’t understand,” Mattis said.



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Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys wants world’s richest turf race to eventually rival Melbourne Cup for betting interest


The Everest can still only dream of that betting realm, but the ambitious V’landys has quickly claimed No.2 spot ahead of a super day in which the slots-only race will be run an hour before the Caulfield Cup in Melbourne.

“The Everest, in a short period, has captured the imagination of the punter,” said V’landys, also the chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission. “It’s by far our biggest race in NSW now. You have always got to be aspirational and the Melbourne Cup is the benchmark.

It’s by far our biggest race in NSW now. You have always got to be aspirational and the Melbourne Cup is the benchmark.

Racing NSW chief Peter V’landys

“As I’ve said many times, the Melbourne Cup is a race of a different generation and we’re trying to make The Everest for the younger generation. If that investment proves correct in the next 10 or 15 years it should be quite big.

“You have to remember 80 per cent of the 42,000 who were there last year were under the age of 35. The Melbourne Cup still appeals to this generation, but hopefully in 10, 15 or 20 years we can catch up.”

The Everest crowd at Randwick will be capped at 11,000 under COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday, but it will still attract Sydney’s social set and a healthy number of racegoers.

More importantly for expanding its global appeal is the fact broadcast partners SKY Racing will beam pictures of the race into more countries than in any other year since the race’s inception in 2017.

Glen Boss aboard Yes Yes Yes at The Everest last year. Credit:Getty Images

It will also show the race in a real-time video on Facebook Live.

“We have done races on Facebook before, but nowhere near as many countries as Saturday,” said Darren Pearce, SKY’s executive general manager media and international.

“It will go into Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Turkey, France and Russia. Those countries aren’t betting on the race, but they will be able to see it.

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“Basically wherever we have not got a broadcast agreement in the racing world, [they] will watch it on Facebook. It will be on Fox Sports in the States again to hit the American cable market. We are going to 65 countries with The Everest and it is getting bigger every year.”

It’s also believed Racing NSW will remove the geoblock on its website.

The mixture of 12 wealthy businesses, partnerships and individuals who pay a minimum $600,000 a year for a slot in the race have all been given a lifetime option on a position in The Everest.

This year’s race will be the first time the first four horses past the post will earn a minimum $1 million for their slotholder and connections.

But after an increase in total prize money in each of the first four years, V’landys said it was unlikely the overall stakes would be raised beyond $15 million in 2021.

Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club elected to maintain the purse this year despite the crippling financial effect of the global health pandemic.

“We’ve put every bit of profit we’ve made from the race back into the race,” V’landys said. “I think we’ve reached a mark where we’ll probably leave it there. It’s still the richest race in the world on turf, but that’s not to say a future board might not increase it.”

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Daimler labor chief urges lawmakers to promote car charging



FILE PHOTO: The Daimler logo is seen before the Daimler annual shareholder meeting in Berlin, Germany, April 5, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

October 10, 2020

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – European lawmakers should promote electric car charging infrastructure as aggressively as they seek to lower carbon dioxide emissions, Michael Brecht, works council chief at German carmaker Daimler <DAIGn.DE>, told Reuters.

Carmakers have warned that European Commission proposals to cut average new car emissions in 2030 by 50% below 2021 levels threaten manufacturing jobs, which are heavily dependent on assembling combustion engine cars.

Overall demand for cars could suffer if ownership of electric vehicles was not made more attractive with more readily available charging networks, Brecht said.

“The political establishment should not decide on a green deal to tighten carbon dioxide emission limits unconditionally,” Brecht told Reuters. “There has to be a master plan for ramping up charging infrastructure. There are lots of small initiatives but there is nobody bringing it all together.”

Earlier this week, the European Parliament voted in favor of a legally binding target for the European Union to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030.

“Fundamentally its a good strategy, but ramping up electric mobility is problematic. We will not end up with the same number of employees,” Brecht warned.

Brecht said the carmaker has reviewed its strategy to free up resources to retool its factories and retrain workers to build low emission cars.

(Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach; Editing by Alex Richardson)





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WA considering travel bubble, Chief Health Officer reveals


“I think Queensland is 29 days without community spread, New South Wales is halfway there, so that’s great to see and certainly those things are being definitely factored into our considerations.

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“And if Victoria were to continue to progress and get down to that same situation then we will certainly look at that and look at whether we can open the borders up either to a number of states, or more broadly.”

NSW and the Northern Territory – and soon South Australia – are due to open borders to New Zealanders on October 16, but WA has so far declined the offer, which has been on the table since September 18.

WA ‘eliminated’ community transmission of COVID-19 in mid-April.

Dr Robertson said while WA had gone 178 days without any mystery community cases, the state was the most vulnerable to the virus if a case did seep in.

“At this stage, because our society has been opened up, because of our phase 4 arrangements, that has really enabled everybody to go back to work, to socialise, to attend sporting events, which has been great and it’s obviously helped our economy, but it also places us at a risk,” he said.

“We are probably one of the more susceptible states if we were to get a case, if we get one or two cases, we could get a substantial outbreak and that would obviously require considerable effort to get it under control.”

In July, during Clive Palmer’s legal challenge to the constitutionality of WA’s hard border, a group of public health experts estimated if a case of coronavirus was to get into the WA community, it would spread at a rate of between 2-2.5 people per case.

On Tuesday, WA Health reported 3436 COVID-19 tests were carried out in WA.

Around one in every five tests was carried out at a COVID clinic. The remainder were made up of mandatory testing of returned international travellers in hotel quarantine, interstate truck drivers, people from Victoria and hospital testing.



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