Australian PM called out over 'half-baked' pandemic inquiry that shields premiers

Former Deputy Chief Health Officer condemns the inquiry's limited scope, questioning its effectiveness.

Australian PM called out over 'half-baked' pandemic inquiry that shields premiers
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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has come under fire after announcing a 'half-baked' pandemic inquiry that will enable state premiers to escape scrutiny.

Australia’s former deputy chief health officer slammed the government’s proposed Covid pandemic inquiry as wholly inadequate.

Albanese announced the inquiry into the pandemic on Thursday morning but emphasised it would not investigate the actions of state or territory leaders.

Dr Nick Coatsworth said it was “concerning” that actions taken unilaterally by state and territory governments were not within the inquiry’s scope.

“That's pretty much everything they did...” he tweeted.

The government’s limited terms of reference suggest the inquiry will not examine lockdowns or state border closures.

Dr Coatsworth had previously called for an inquiry to examine whether independent public health powers should remain with states and territories during a health emergency.

“Who determines proportionality of pandemic response and how are societal costs of pandemic restrictions assessed and balanced against need for disease control?” he asked.

He said an inquiry should look at the actions of state governments and determine whether they were proportionate.

The Prime Minister said on Thursday that the Covid inquiry was “important”.

“We said before the election and I've said since, given the enormous dislocation, the stress, the loss of life, the economic impact of the pandemic – it is appropriate that when we reached a certain period we would have an inquiry,” he said.

But before winning office, Albanese had called for more than a toothless inquiry. He had called for a Royal Commission which has vastly more powers.

The limited terms of reference for the inquiry mean that Labor state premiers like Dan Andrews will avoid scrutiny.

He said yesterday:

We need to examine what went right (and) what could be done better with a focus on the future because the health experts and the science tells us that this pandemic may not be – indeed is not likely to be – the last one that occurs.”

Click here to watch the full episode of The Opposition Podcast with Sam Newman.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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