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Barnaby Joyce, Mark McGowan in stoush over North Korea COVID comments

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has sparked a verbal stoush with Western Australia’s Premier after likening the state to North Korea.

Mr Joyce didn’t mix words on his view of Mark McGowan’s political leadership, particularly his COVID-19 policy to keep WA borders shut, in an article for The Sunday Times.

“Maybe he can develop his own currency… It’s kind of ridiculous. This is starting to smell like arrogance and not logic,” the newspaper quoted Mr Joyce as saying.

Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nationals Barnaby Joyce.
Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nationals Barnaby Joyce. (Sydney Morning Herald)

“Ultimately, unless you are going to really turn yourself into a hermit kingdom, like we’ll have North Korea and a kind of anther hermit kingdom on the west coast of Australia, then COVID is going to arrive.”

Mr McGowan hit back at Mr Joyce in a fiery retort in which he labelled the Nationals Leader as “an embarrassment to the Australian Parliament”.

“We don’t live in a cave, we’re not North Korea, and anyone paying attention at all would appreciate the remarkable quality of life we’re able to enjoy here,” Mr McGowan posted to his 435,000 Facebook followers.

“Barnaby Joyce doesn’t have the experience of managing and dealing with COVID and is an embarrassment to the Australian Parliament.

“We won’t be taking his advice.”

Mr McGowan said his government’s position was clear.

“Vaccination is our way out of this pandemic. We’ll ease our border controls with COVID-infected states when it’s safe to do so and based on health advice,” he wrote.

WA Premier Mark McGowan has taken to Facebook to criticise the Federal Government's plan to reopen the country. (Getty)
WA Premier Mark McGowan has taken to Facebook to criticise the Federal Government’s plan to reopen the country. (Getty) (Getty)

“But we won’t rush to do it too early, undo everything that we have achieved and needlessly put lives at risk. I don’t want to see WA forced into lockdown over Christmas.

“I don’t think that approach is controversial.”

WA did not record any new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

The driver, who is currently in South Australia, entered WA on September 30 and left on October 3 while potentially infectious.

“So far, initial testing of his co-driver has come back negative,” Mr McGowan said in a separate Facebook post published this evening.

“The risk to the public is considered low, however CCTV footage is currently being reviewed and Health officials are working to identify any close or casual contacts of the man.”

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