While Australia avoided the worst of the global pandemic, it has only been because of a combination of geography, luck, and hard border closures. The Federal Government clearly mismanaged Australia’s quarantine program, and completely neglected to plan and execute the vaccination roll-out.
The Government must acknowledge its failings, take immediate steps to mitigate further spread of the virus through effective quarantine facilities and engage with experts from academia, health, and private industry to complete the vaccination roll-out.
The Government must overhaul its pandemic response and engage with Australian experts to focus on key fundamentals of quarantine and vaccination.
A Royal Commission is needed to investigate Australia’s pandemic response.
An Australian Centre for Disease Control is required to manage infectious disease risk in Australia and investing in Australian R&D and vaccine manufacturing capacity is essential.
- Construct dual-purpose quarantine facilities, that could be rapidly mobilised for international quarantine in the event of a future pandemic
- Provide travellers, upon exit from quarantine, with daily COVID-19 home testing kits
- Make available more broadly COVID-19 home testing kits, particularly for those undergoing home quarantine
- Establish an independent expert committee (not military personnel) that includes social scientists, and public health professionals to develop and advise on the implementation of a mass vaccination plan for Australia
For the medium term we need:
- A Royal Commission into Australia’s pandemic response, covering everything from the Ruby Princess to vaccine procurement and distribution
- The establishment of an Australian Centre for Disease Control that would be independent of Government and provide evidence-based advice and guidance on health threats to Australia and undertake public health research.
- A plan for investing in science and research to future proof Australia’s health
- Investment into advanced vaccine manufacturing capability