Dear Mr McGowan,
I say Dear Mr McGowan but this letter is also for any Western Australian who has responded with indifference or contempt throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic at the ongoing and real-life struggles of WA citizens living overseas or those with loved ones in Western Australia.
This letter is for any Western Australian currently celebrating the indefinite cancellation of the border opening and claiming it as a victory of border policy.
Please allow me the opportunity to explain the current situation from the perspective of a Western Australian currently living overseas.
The pandemic began and the Australian border policies sacrificed its citizens overseas in a way that literally no other country in the world did. I said nothing.
I had my first child and my parents were unable to come and meet their grandson or offer me support. I said nothing.
Growing rhetoric emerged from Australians in Australia saying it was our own fault if we chose to leave our country and the government therefore had no responsibility to help its citizens who found themselves overseas when the pandemic hit. I said nothing.
The time my husband and I had available for parental leave came and went without us being able to bring my son home to meet his family and my oldest friends. I said nothing.
I heard the most heartbreaking stories of Australian citizens trapped overseas, whose situations were infinitely more tragic than my own. I said nothing.
I struggled with my mental health and the most intense homesickness I have ever experienced. I said nothing.
While the rest of the world seemed to accept that COVID-19 was here to stay and took steps to learn to live with the virus, Australia clung to the illusion that COVID-zero was a long-term possibility and squandered the advantage that the extreme border policies had afforded it. I said nothing.
My son began to crawl, said his first words, celebrated his first birthday and took his first steps all without most of my family or friends ever having met him. I said nothing.
Expats from almost every other country in the world began to be able to reconnect with their loved ones, while Australian expats were still cut off from theirs. I said nothing.
Some of my best friends got married, had their first child, struggled with illness and I was unable to be there for any of it. I said nothing.
Other States began to open up their borders while you continued to postpone setting a date to open, seemingly oblivious to the fact that those unable or unwilling to get vaccinated were going to remain so, regardless of when borders open, while those who are simply hesitant or complacent were much more likely to get vaccinated if you set an opening date and stick to it! I said nothing.