Today, the Albanese Labor Government has been caught backpedalling on its unacceptable decision to severely limit the scope of their COVID-19 inquiry.
The delayed decision to slightly expand the inquiry’s scope, allowing panel members to investigate the evidence used in state and territory decisions made in response to COVID-19, is welcome.
However, it is important to be clear - the terms of reference still explicitly exclude the decisions of state and territory governments from being investigated or considered by the inquiry.
It is clear that the Prime Minister’s approach to this issue has been so disingenuous and chaotic that it is even causing confusion within his own Cabinet Ministry.
Shockingly, the Minister for Health Mark Butler incorrectly stated this morning that ‘the terms of reference explicitly include the examination of health response measures… [including] lockdowns to density requirements, social distancing requirements, school closures, border closures, and the like.’
This is blatantly incorrect.
The Minister even went on to state that ‘it would be extraordinary for an inquiry not to examine the operation of those measures.’
The Coalition agrees with the Minister that his Government’s decision to specifically exclude measures such as lockdowns and border closures from the inquiry is extraordinary.
Today’s backpedalling does not go far enough to undo the Prime Minister’s outrageous mishandling of this key election promise, which clearly his own Health Minister does not agree with.
If the Prime Minister wants to prove that he is serious about having an appropriate and thorough investigation into COVID-19, then he must immediately remove the exemption from his terms of reference.