Western Australia is desperate to get back to the way things were during the coronavirus pandemic as it reimposes Covid-style police checkpoints under the guise of cracking down on illegal drugs and cycling.
From later this year, visitors to Western Australia by land, air or sea will have to pass through police-manned checkpoints where vehicles can be searched.
The measures are part of a suite of extraordinary powers handed to the police by Prime Minister Mark McGowan under the so-called “mythbuster” laws.
The laws will remain in effect until at least 2028.
The Western Australian government said the move was requested by police because during the pandemic, methamphetamine use dropped by 51 per cent in Perth, and up to 73 per cent in regional areas.
“This new law will make it tougher than ever for organized crime to bring drugs into Western Australia,” McGowan said.
Under new powers, WA Police will once again man border checkpoints as they have done during the Covid period (officers pictured and Royal Australian making a stop in April 2020)
Police Minister Paul Papalia said the state was effectively “creating hard limits for methamphetamine”.
The phrase evoked memories of the pandemic period when Western Australia’s “hard border” was effectively closed off from the world for 697 days.
Mr. Papalia said the laws specifically target drug imports.
“This really enables us to focus on disrupting and breaking the power that outlaw motorcycle gangs have over our communities,” he said.
“They (methamphetamine shipments) come from overseas, they come from interstate, they’re delivered to Western Australia by overseas Triads and Mafia and cartels, and then distributed, mostly in Australia by outlaw motorcycle gangs.”
However, not everyone agrees with the new border authorities.
It was Nova News anchor and social commentator Michelle Stephenson who voiced her concerns.
“If that doesn’t concern you, it should,” said the Western Australian.
Rebel news chief Avi Yemini called McGowan a “dictator” because he had reinstated the laws.
Mark McGowan is now bringing back the powers of Pestilence Mode for other uses indefinitely. Once a dictator, he has always been a dictator.
The premier, Mark McGowan, says the new checkpoints will impede the flow of methamphetamine into the state
There will be 22 permanent police search areas around airports, ports and road and rail crossings into Western Australia.
WA’s new “hard limits” to stop drugs and cycling
The country will have permanent police stationed at airports, seaports, road and railroad border crossings
The police will be provided with high-tech search capabilities
No other country has such stringent laws
Police will have increased powers to stop and search people and their vehicles
Roads outside the airport, ports and railway stations will have checkpoints where police will have the authority to stop and search vehicles using electronic sticks and drug dogs.
There will be exceptions to stop and search powers for “people who engage in certain activities,” though it is unclear what those powers are.
Although the Western Australian Police gained powers that no other force in Australia had, the state government assured the public that they would not be abused.
She said there were “many checks and balances” including oversight by the state crime and corruption commission.
Washington State Police Commissioner Cole Blanche called the laws a “new tool in the toolbox” for stopping drug trafficking.
“Police officers will use all legislative options and range of capabilities to prevent these drugs from entering our society and to bring to justice the criminals behind these imports,” he said.
During the Covid period from April 2020 to March 2022, Western Australia banned anyone from entering the state except for essential purposes.
After announcing the state’s reopening, McGowan acknowledged that “hard borders” had greatly affected many people, but insisted it was necessary to “save lives.”
“Putting someone in their place was not something I thought I would have to do as prime minister,” he wrote on social media.
“It is something I hope the prime minister will never do again.”
WA says motorcycle gangs are the main traffickers of methamphetamine in Western Australia (stock image pictured)