A mining rigger has lost his job after he was deported from Western Australia back to New South Wales, despite clearing his travel with authorities ahead of time.
Paul Davies, 42, moved from his hometown of Perth to Newcastle, on the NSW Central Coast, to be closer to his girlfriend Emma in May.
The mining worker scheduled his shifts with ample time to return to Western Australia and even double checked his paperwork with officials.
But when Mr Davies returned to Perth in July he was denied entry into the state and sent on a $1,000 return journey back to NSW.
‘I applied, got accepted and then got knocked back at the door,’ Mr Davies told Daily Mail Australia.
Mining rigger Paul Davies (pictured right with girlfriend Emma Thomson), from Perth, lost his job after being denied entry to Western Australia despite possessing prior approval
Mr Davies (pictured left) moved to Newcastle, in New South Wales, to live with Ms Thomson (right) in May during coronavirus lockdown. He attempted to fly to his home state on July 23
The FIFO rigger had worked on Shell’s Prelude floating liquefied natural gas facility, off the coast of Broome in northwest WA, since 2017.
‘When COVID kicked off we de-manned for a bit on Prelude and that went on for about three months. In that time I moved to Newcastle and waited it out here with my partner. Then I was due to fly back to Perth and things changed,’ Mr Davies explained.
He became increasingly concerned when WA premier Mark McGowan continued to tighten the state’s border restrictions and eventually banned travellers from Victoria and NSW.
The state’s closed borders mean Australians can only enter WA if they gain approval as an exempt traveller.
Exempt travellers include emergency service workers, politicians and truck drivers delivering goods to WA.
‘I contacted the WA COVID hotline to confirm whether or not I would be granted entry if I were to fly to Perth on July 23.
‘The lady giving the information basically said if you apply for a G2G Pass and state your case it’s up to them to decide whether you come in or not.
‘I applied for the pass and was accepted, so I booked my ticket and flew into Perth at 10pm on July 23,’ Mr Davies said.
Mr Davies (pictured left with Ms Thomson right) claimed WA Police denied his application to enter the state at the border after learning he was a Fifo mining worker
But as soon as he landed he was met by WA Police officers and taken to an interview room.
‘I thought it would just be a quick scan of the pass but it became apparent straight away that they weren’t going to let me in.
‘She said “No you can’t come in, you’re a Fifo”.’
‘And I said “I do reside here too, I grew up in Perth” but she didn’t want to hear a bar of it once she knew I was going to be working in the state.’
CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS IN WA
Western Australia has gone over 150 days without a case of community transmitted coronavirus
Any international arrivals into the state must undergo mandatory quarantine in a hotel for 14 days
Western Australia has a harsh border restriction in place
The state’s border has been closed and other Australians must have special approval to gain access
Exempt travellers eligible to enter Western Australia include politicians and emergency service workers
Australians who have been in New South Wales and Victoria are currently unable to enter Western Australia
Mr Davies was escorted to a quarantine hotel for one night and ordered to book a return flight within 24 hours or risk being fined.
‘The most frustrating part of that was that I had gone through the right channels,’ he said.
‘I’d been in contact with them and been advised what to do, had got the pass, flew there and got denied on entry.
‘That was my job gone,’ Mr Davies said.
The 42-year-old hoped he could return to his old position in WA but said he felt ‘kicked out’ of his home.
‘It’s all just standby for the moment until things hopefully clear up or I probably have to start looking for something different over here in Newcastle.
‘I’ve still got a room and my bed in Perth. It’s just so different now.
‘A year ago you could live wherever you want and sort of float around and now it’s ‘No you don’t live in WA anymore.’
He called on the WA government to remove their ‘harsh’ restrictions.
‘I think what they’re doing is pretty extreme, if you’re isolating anyway for two weeks and COVID testing people I think that’s pretty sound.
‘If you’re just abiding by that there should be no problem,’ Mr Davies said.
Western Australian State Emergency Coordinator and Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said officers could deny approved applications at the border.
‘It is a complex set of directions that have changed quite frequently. So where people were initially approved we had a lot of complaints,’ he told reporters.
‘People said “You once approved me, now I’ve been told I can’t come in” and we say ‘That’s correct, it’s changed”.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted WA Police for comment.