Australia’s center-left Labor government announced on Thursday that it will conduct an independent inquiry into how they managed the COVID-19 pandemic. This inquiry aims to help the country better prepare for any future health crises.
Australia implemented strict measures during the pandemic, including closing its international borders and imposing city-wide lockdowns. These measures helped keep the number of infections and deaths much lower than in other developed nations like the United States and Britain.
In early 2022, as a majority of the population received vaccinations, Australia transitioned to a strategy of coexisting with the virus.
The inquiry will be carried out by a three-member panel consisting of an epidemiologist, a public service expert, and an economist. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced this during a press conference. He emphasized the need to evaluate both what went well and what could have been improved, with a strong focus on preparing for future health crises. Albanese also pointed out that experts and science suggest that this pandemic might not be the last.
While Albanese stressed that the inquiry serves the national interest, the opposition coalition, which was in power during the peak of the pandemic, expressed concerns that it could turn into a “witch-hunt.”
The opposition also criticized Albanese’s government for excluding state-level restrictions, such as the intermittent lockdowns enforced by the Victoria government in Melbourne. Melbourne experienced one of the longest lockdowns globally, lasting a total of 262 days.
Peter Dutton, the opposition leader, stated that understanding the lessons from COVID-19, both positive and negative, at every level of government is crucial. Without this understanding, he questioned how the country could be adequately prepared for the next pandemic.