Western Australia’s hard border with the eastern states has allegedly been breached by two Melburnian men who entered WA to attend the Australian Football League (AFL) grand final at Optus Stadium over the weekend, resulting in a frenzied search for the pair across Perth.
Hayden Burbank, 49, and Mark Babbage, 39, appeared in Perth Magistrates Court via video link on September 29 over the alleged breach of Western Australia’s
tough border policy. Neither man applied for bail, and their matter was adjourned until October 13.
Earlier on September 29, WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson revealed that both men had been tested for Covid-19, with one man returning an inconclusive test result, but later cleared.
The men were arrested at 10.30am on September 29 after an extensive search by WA police and photographs and descriptions of the two men were released to the public across multiple media platforms.
Pictures of a black Audi, which the men were allegedly driving across the southwest of WA, were also released.
It has been revealed that the two men were “suspected of failing to comply with a Direction (Emergency Management Act)”. Police allege the men lied about being in Victoria in the past fortnight.
The pair allegedly entered the state via Darwin. WA police will allege that the men flew from Melbourne to Darwin on September 14, and then from Darwin to Western Australia on September 22.
In a media announcement, Commissioner Dawson said: “On the 27th of September, police received an anonymous tip-off that these two males had allegedly been in Victoria … and they both attended the grand final at Optus Stadium”.
Before the men’s arrest, the Commissioner told the media that WA Police were trying to locate the men due to concerns regarding their border approvals.
“We want to speak to them about their G2G approvals because we’ve got some concerns about potential breaches,” he said.
Upon entering WA, an image of the men appeared on the AFL Instagram account.
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Prior to the AFL grand final on September 25, Commissioner Dawson said that travelling to WA in order to “attend the AFL Finals Series as a spectator” was not a valid reason for entering the state if coming from “restricted locations”.
Recently, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was preparing to announce the end of international border closures, in addition to setting a date for the reopening of Australia’s international borders.
Western Australia, among other states, has been heavily criticised for the implementation of a hard border and strict restrictions.
More to come as the story develops.