Matters of Urgency – Covid-19: Pandemic Response Inquiry

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (16:10): I move:

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

“It’s been more than two years since some Labor MP’s called for a Royal Commission into Australia’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been 16 months since Labor Senator Katy Gallagher backed a Royal Commission into Australia’s pandemic response. It’s been over a year since Prime Minister Anthony Albanese promised the Australian people a Royal Commission or a similar inquiry into Australia’s response to the COVID pandemic. He said an inquiry would be established ‘as soon as practicable’.”

The Labor Government must honour their promises and establish a Royal Commission into the pandemic response immediately.”

It’s been almost a year since the Prime Minister, Mr Albanese, promised to establish a royal commission into our nation’s pandemic response. Where is our royal commission? I know things move slowly in this place, but the Prime Minister promised this in August last year. He said a royal commission or something equivalent would be set up ‘as soon as practicable’. When might ‘as soon as practicable’ be, Prime Minister? How long are we going to have to wait?

It’s been 18 months since Labor minister Katy Gallagher backed a royal commission into the pandemic response. Minister Gallagher told the Sydney Morning Herald last year she was firmly of the view that a royal commission was the right thing to do. That’s what she said, and I agree. Most Australians agree. So where is it? It was also Minister Gallagher who last year said that we need to know:

Who was advising, what they were advising, whether the government took that advice at critical parts of the pandemic is all unclear because we haven’t been given access to that information—


We think the government’s response has been characterised by a failure to be prepared, a failure to take responsibility, and then a failure to get it right.

Minister Gallagher was previously the chair of a COVID-19 committee which recommended that we have a royal commission. So, whilst in opposition, the minister was a supporter of a royal commission, but now it seems like the urgency has evaporated. Why, Minister? Why has it evaporated? The Australian people need answers. We need the power of a royal commission to compel witnesses and for the production of documents. We need the truth. We need to hold those in power to account. We need to learn from all the mistakes made—and, my God, there were some mistakes made—and never to repeat them.

The World Health Organization declared the pandemic over back in May. Now is as good a time as any to have this commission. The chief health officers, the state Premiers are retiring, they’re walking away, they’re exiting their positions in quick succession, I think. We must not let them get away with what they did during the pandemic—the human rights abuses, the weaponisation of fear, the lockdowns, the closing of borders and obviously the inhumane vaccine mandates. Unexplained excess mortality is the elephant in the room. Cancer, diabetes, dementia, cardiovascular related deaths—they all spiked. I have previously attempted to create a committee to investigate this, but it was voted down by almost every single senator in this place. What a shame that was.

We purchased 318 million doses of vaccine at a cost of around $10 billion and around 68 million doses have been administered. That is approximately 250 million doses wasted, flushed down the drain, to the tune of $8 billion. Most Australians have caught COVID anyway. The vaccines do not work. We spent hundreds of billions on the COVID pandemic response measures and all we have to show for it is out-of-control inflation, excessive government debt and a guarantee of high taxes for the next generation. My home state of Victoria was the most locked down state in the world. Victorians like me will never forget these inhumane and ineffective measures for the rest of our lives. We will never forget.

We call on the Labor government to honour their promise to establish a royal commission into the pandemic response immediately. They previously said it should happen. They said it was the right thing to do. They promised it ‘as soon as practicable’. Let’s give people answers. Establish a royal commission now. Let’s make sure that this never happens again. Let’s protect our people from gross mismanagement.