Western Australia’s border closure with NSW could make it difficult for Premier Mark McGowan to attend his defamation trial against billionaire Clive Palmer without being forced to quarantine upon his return.
During a Federal Court hearing on Monday, Justice Michael Lee indicated he preferred witnesses for the trial, scheduled to begin in late January in Sydney, to testify in person.
But the court heard WA’s hard border could still be in place at the time, which would mean the Premier would likely be required to quarantine when he returned home.
The defamation case was first brought by Mr Palmer after he was described as an “enemy of the state”, with the Premier then making a counterclaim.
Justice Lee has now ordered the state to provide relevant documents for the case.
The matter will return to court in November for a case management hearing.
Earlier on Monday, the Queensland mining magnate was again urged to drop his legal action against Mr McGowan and the state.
The Premier said several legal actions brought by Mr Palmer were a “misdirection of resources”, adding that defending each one was expensive but necessary.
“I’d advise him or wish that he would stop and that way we could all get back to doing more important things,” Mr McGowan told reporters.
State budget papers show the cost of the legal battle has so far reached $1.47m, with the expectation of a further $3.25m to be spent over the next two years.
Mr McGowan said he would not be surprised if the costs were even greater.
“Every single one of these cases is not our doing. It’s Mr Palmer pursuing legal action against us, which we then have to defend,” he said.
NCA NewsWire is seeking comment from Mr Palmer.
The businessman previously lost a legal challenge to WA’s border regime.
He is also separately fighting a battle over extraordinary legislation that was passed in a bid to kill off a $30bn damages claim by his mining company Mineralogy.