Senate inquiry calls for royal commission into Australia’s pandemic response

In a final statement released Thursday on Australia’s response to the Covid pandemic, the federal government was urged to establish a national center for disease control.

Among the 19 recommendations from the Senate inquiry were calls for a royal commission into Australia’s handling of the pandemic, greater transparency for health bodies and sustainability on how to handle future pandemics.

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the Senate Inquiry Chair Katy Gallagher of Laborsaid the recommendations are crucial right now as we head into the colder months amid an impending spike in cases.

“It is imperative that the next Australian government learns from the failures of the past two years so that when the next pandemic or health crisis comes, Australia is better prepared.”

However, the report found that although “Australia fared much better than other countries” during its first wave, “significant failures” had provokedcatastrophic consequences” with more than 6,000 deaths and a third of elderly people.

“This failure to establish self-sustaining quarantine facilities has resulted in the imposition of overseas arrival caps, which have severely restricted the number of people who can return to Australia, denying thousands of citizens entry to their own country”, says the report.

The deployment of the vaccine “has been plagued by the inability to secure sufficient supplies and significant delays which led to missing all the targets the government had set for itself”

“The government has also failed to address the serious and dangerous misinformation about vaccines being promoted within the government’s own parliamentary ranks.”

After more than two years and dozens of hearings, Senator Gallagher insists a royal commission would have power to deepen Australia’s response to Covid and greater power to encourage information sharing and compliance .

“A royal commission is necessary in part because we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars…on economic responses and over $40 billion on health responses.”

The report also called for a review of the powers of the Therapeutic Goods Administration”to counter health misinformation during public health campaigns or emergency response”.

Gallagher quoted that Australia was “not prepared” for the pandemic, the federal government being reluctant to take “responsibility”.

She cited that the failures of the Morrison government on “quarantine and vaccines” had caused “indirect consequences”.

“We think some of the failures have prolonged the lockdowns, we’ve had significant outbreaks as a result – obviously more cases, and sadly more deaths.”

– Senator Gallagher

The Morrison government has also been put on the coals for its lack of transparency with information to the commission during the two-year course hearings.

Meanwhile, Covid cases and hospitalizations in Australia and New Zealand look like this:

Western Australia

  • New cases: 6,892
  • Covid-related deaths: 2
  • Admissions to hospital and intensive care: 243 / 6

North territory

  • New cases: to be determined
  • Covid-related deaths: TBA
  • Admissions to hospital and intensive care: to be determined

Australian Capital Territory

  • New cases: 1,200
  • Covid-related deaths: 1
  • Admissions to hospital and intensive care: 55 / 3

queensland

  • New cases: 10,092
  • Covid-related deaths: 9
  • Admissions to hospital and intensive care: 479 / 15

New South Wales

  • New cases: 20,396
  • Covid-related deaths: 8
  • Admissions to hospital and intensive care: 1,435 / 44

Victoria

  • New cases: 11,192
  • Covid-related deaths: 4
  • Admissions to hospital and intensive care: 335 / 12

South Australia

  • New cases: 5,666
  • Covid-related deaths: 6
  • Admissions to hospital and intensive care: 202 / 11

Tasmania

  • New cases: 1,885
  • Covid-related deaths: 0
  • Admissions to hospital and intensive care: 41 / 1

New Zealand

  • New cases: 9,906
  • Covid-related deaths: 10
  • Admissions to hospital and intensive care: 626 / 17

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Norman D. Briggs