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“We need to maintain our strong relationship with China both now and into the future.

“Together we need to support our local Chinese community in Western Australia. This is not a time for discrimination, this is a time for support.”

Mr McGowan said WA’s strong economic and cultural relationship with China was “potentially the strongest in the western world”.

“I’m sure that our relationship will endure what we are going through currently, but that does demonstrate why this issue is so important for us as a state,” he said.

There has been about a 13 per cent decline in the price of iron ore over the past fortnight to $US81 ($A121) per tonne, a concern for one of several concerns for a state economy heavily dependent on a lucrative trade partnership with China.

The state’s budget fortunes are also dependent on iron ore royalties.

Across China, construction has all but ground to a halt amid travel restrictions and port closures, prompting investors to dump iron ore shares.

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The government has forecast a surplus of $2.6 billion this financial year, but Treasurer Ben Wyatt said that was not yet at risk, although coronavirus would emerge as an economic and fiscal shock.

He said the economic and fiscal effects of the coronavirus on WA would emerge over time, but the economy and finances were well placed to respond.

“The budget is based on a very conservative view around the iron ore price and that is certainly something that the budget can sustain at this point,” Mr Wyatt said.

“What the impact will be of course will depend entirely upon how long the ban is in place, restrictions on travel, impacts on shipping and how long it takes to fully recover from it.”

The Premier on Monday met with representatives from the state’s mining, tourism, education and agriculture industries. All have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent ban on arrivals from China.

Mr McGowan said he would take the concerns of the industry groups to the Commonwealth to argue for measures to support their recovery.

“On the weekend, we announced nearly $3 million in a blitz campaign in the eastern states to promote Western Australia as a great place to visit,” he said.

“What we also need to do is not desert China, so we need to keep our presence in China in tourism and students and every other sense, because obviously China will resolve these issues and we need to keep a very strong relationship and very supportive relationship with China because it’s very important to us economically and culturally.”

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Mr McGowan said he would ask the Commonwealth to extend the visas of students who were prevented from arriving because of travel bans.

“This is a serious issue for our state, but we don’t need to panic and I’m confident that the resilience of the Western Australian economy will shine through until this is over,” he said.

More than 240 evacuated Australians were due to land in the state’s north on Monday on a Qantas flight from Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

The passengers were set to arrive at the RAAF Base Learmonth near Exmouth before being taken to Christmas Island on smaller military aircraft.

Passengers underwent health checks before boarding the flight and were not allowed to travel if they were unwell.

WA authorities have nonetheless made contingency plans in case any of the passengers are ill when their flight lands.

St John Ambulance and Royal Flying Doctor aircraft will be on standby at Learmonth to transport passengers to Perth if needed.

Any affected travellers would be quarantined at either Perth Children’s Hospital or Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

WA was also sending a team of medical assistants to Learmonth to help with the assessment of patients.

The state is yet to record a positive test for coronavirus.

– with AAP

Nathan is WAtoday’s political reporter and the winner of the 2019 Arthur Lovekin Prize for Excellence in Journalism.

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