Clive Palmer’s border challenge is set to return to court as the West Australian government seeks a clean slate for the legal battle.
The matter will be heard in the Federal Court on Friday for a case management hearing sought by the WA government.
WA is arguing the case should be vacated and a new trial of the issues convened after the federal government withdrew its support for Mr Palmer’s position.
Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter is one of several WA Liberal MPs who risked an electoral backlash given voters’ overwhelming support for border closures.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has denied that’s why the Commonwealth withdrew its involvement.
“You’ve got to move as circumstances change,” he told 6PR radio.
“I didn’t want there to be any anxiety in Western Australia and I didn’t want that juiced up by anyone seeking to create any panic or anxiety. I think that would be very harmful.”
The prime minister said the Commonwealth was now “out of the case” but would make representations in Friday’s hearing.
“I’ve got no beef with the WA government on this … I’d prefer it had never arisen and I’m pleased we’re out of it,” he said.
Mr Palmer, who was denied an exemption to WA’s hard border closures, is challenging the restrictions on the basis they are unconstitutional.
A ruling had been expected in the High Court in October after a four-day hearing concluded in the Federal Court last week.
That is almost certain to be delayed if a new trial of issues is ordered.
Premier Mark McGowan said West Australians would be watching the verdict closely.
“We’re doing our best to save lives and also get our economy up and running within our hard borders,” he said.
Mr Palmer has denied the challenge is politically motivated.