How WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan’s tough Covid stance could lead to UK flights diverted to Darwin for good – as origin of his unflattering nickname ‘Sneakers’ is revealed
- Mark McGowan doubled border closures after 80 percent vaccination
- Qantas said flights between Australia and the UK could move to Darwin due to the hardline
- A former fellow MP revealed that Mr McGowan’s image has changed since the start of his career
- He was considered a ‘brown nose’ by colleagues and was nicknamed ‘sneakers’
Mark McGowan’s tough stance on Covid border restrictions could lead to the state losing its flagship Perth to the UK’s direct escape route as former colleagues reveal its less flattering nickname – Sneakers.
Qantas said it is considering moving its non-stop flights between Australia and London to Darwin from its existing Perth hub due to “conservative border policies in Western Australia”.
The Prime Minister of Western Australia, who has closed borders with most other states to prevent virus cases from entering, remained furious at Qantas CEO Alan Joyce’s announcement.
Qantas has said flights between Australia and the UK may be moved to Darwin rather than Perth due to WA’s strict Covid border closures
WA has remained largely Covid-free in 2021, but has also been cut off from the rest of the country (pictured, people walking in Perth in June during a four-day lockdown)
“As a state, we have funded flights from Perth to London and have made $15 million in improvements to the terminal,” said Mr McGowan.
He added that WA’s economy — which boomed through 2020 despite the Covid pandemic thanks to a strong mining industry — helped keep the rest of the country afloat, including taxpayer funds that have kept the airline afloat.
“They need to show some understanding and maybe some gratitude for what the state government has done.”
Mr McGowan pledged again earlier this month to close and lock up borders even when 80 percent of the population is vaccinated — doubling the zero-covid strategy that has fueled its popularity.
Former Labor MPs said McGowan’s behavior had changed in recent years to be more confident (pictured in Perth this month)
Famous parishioners on the west coast have fueled the prime minister’s willingness to confront his east coast colleagues by imposing the strictest and longest border closures in the country.
A move that has made him a household name across the country in a way no previous West Coast prime ministers have managed to do.
He was voted back by a landslide majority in the state elections in March this year.
McGowan early in his political career (pictured with former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam)
But the no-nonsense attitude and charisma of the past 18 months is a relatively new side of the 54-year-old former Navy lawyer.
A two-decade old Labor colleague revealed to: the Australian this week that Mr McGowan’s early manner was a world away from the authoritative personality he now exudes.
“He used to be a bit of a nervous Nellie, but he’s changed his attitude. He’s confident, he’s willing to hire people, he’s not being sued like most of the party,” said former MP Mick Murray.
He was also considered a brown-nosed and disliked the Labor Party so much early in his political career that he was nicknamed Mark ‘sneakers’ McGowan because it was the only part of him left visible, it goes. the story.
Mr McGowan (pictured) grew up and attended primary school in NSW before moving first to Queensland for university and then to WA to work for the Navy
While Mr McGowan may be a hero at home – as long as locals have no desire to travel east or overseas – his Covid-free platform could inevitably crumble at some point unless he wants WA to remain isolated from the world.
And with it his popularity, which can quickly change in the world of politics.
Just ask NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian, who of leading the ‘gold standard’ example of how a state can stay open during the Covid pandemic, was blamed for a crippling extended Sydney lockdown in a matter of weeks .
“What he does next is the hard part,” explains Mr Murray.
‘[The Labor Party] are not highly exposed, so if he makes a mistake, he’s in the s**t.’
Qantas said they want to move flights to depart from Darwin for long-haul international travel