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Top Retailer Gives WA Premier Two Finger Salute As They Move East

Retailers are fed up with West Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan, no more so than Wesfarmers management, whose executives are moving Interstate to get away from the restrictions that McGowan is placing on retailers and their employees.

Wesfarmers boss Rob Scott has managed to steer his Bunnings and Kmart retailing empire through the worst of COVID and along the way he has also managed to pick up the Priceline pharmacy group.

Scott, whose company ranks as the nation’s biggest employer, claims it’s “Virtually Impossible” to run a business from Perth so much so that he is relocating himself and key management Interstate.

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Observers claim that McGowan who leads a Labor Government has moved to block travel to the State because of the upcoming Federal Election.

The move by Wesfarmers is tipped to put McGowan under intense pressure from Perth’s tight business community to quickly commit to a border reopening framework ahead of the Federal Election.

While Wesfarmers has supported “a cautious and risk-based approach” to managing Covid, McGowan’s decision “is out of step with the rest of the country, and most of the world,” Scott says.

McGowan has also been described as “dishonest” and a person who does not keep to his word.

Also quitting WA is business executive Richard Goyder, one of Western Australia’s most prominent business leaders, who has decided to leave his hometown “indefinitely”, following Premier Mark McGowan’s sensational decision not to open his state up to the world as planned on February 5.

“The problem with the (WA) border change is everyone feels that they’ve kept their side of the bargain, including business that has set itself up to get going again,” says Goyder, who was CEO of Wesfarmers until 2017.

“It’s very hard to run a national company if you can’t travel.” Goyder is urging a “sensible way forward” on the border – opening in line with national cabinet recommendations – while introducing mechanisms and testing to help reduce the scale of any Covid spread in WA.

Currently Wesfarmers is recruiting for its soon-to-be-unveiled healthcare business which it plans to build around the API business.

Also on the agenda is a meeting with his new Sydney-based executive Nicole Sheffield, most recently from Australia Post, who will integrate Wesfarmers’ data and digital businesses.

Wesfarmers’ first-half results are scheduled for February 17 and immediately after that is an intensive round of investor briefings, with the bulk of the company’s top shareholders and debt investors based on the east coast.

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