Australian One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has called on whichever party wins this year’s federal election to establish a Royal Commission in Australia’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The senator on Sunday said an “honest and thorough examination” is “absolutely critical” in examining the policies put in place by Australia’s federal, state and territory governments, although it will not be “an easy exercise.”
“We need it because only a Royal Commission is likely to have the power necessary to compel the expert health advice Australian governments relied on to justify and implement pandemic measures – much of this advice has been hidden from the Australian people,” she said.
“The Australian people deserve a comprehensive account of the decisions made by their governments to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The pandemic and the governments’ attempt to manage it have seen thousands of people losing their jobs, businesses closing their doors, individual rights and freedom curtailed or discarded, and “unelected bureaucrats” having “wielded extraordinary power.”
“People have died. The economy was shut down. Schools were shut down. Entire cities were effectively shut down. Borders were closed. Vast quantities of taxpayers’ money have been expended. Military personnel have been deployed,” Hanson noted.
A Royal Commission is not “to lay blame or find scapegoats,” as the responsibility will always be passed to top leaders, but primarily to learn which pandemic measures worked and which didn’t, so Australians are much better prepared for the next pandemic,” Hanson added.
“Because as sure as the sun rises every day, there will inevitably be another pandemic. The lessons learned from this pandemic must inform how we manage the next one.”
“Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.”
Various inquiries have been made to scrutinise certain aspects of Australia’s COVID-19 response, including NSW’s probe of the Ruby Princess cruise ship debacle and Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry.
Tony Harris, a former NSW auditor-general, told The Age on Dec. 28, 2020, that pandemic policies deserve to be examined as the pandemic is “the biggest economic and social event since the Vietnam War.”
But Victorian ex-premier Steve Bracks argued that “when everything’s over, when the vaccine has been rolled out and when we’re able to move around and travel again, maybe that’s the time to look at [it].”
Hanson’s call comes following the easing of restrictions in several Australian states such as NSW, Victoria and South Australia as national double vaccination rates reached 92.9 percent by Jan. 24.
Meanwhile, the Western Australian government recently backflipped on its border reopening scheduled on Feb. 5 despite the excellent vaccination coverage, leaving over two million West Australians faced being trapped indefinitely within their own.
Australia’s pandemic measures have sparked a large number of anti-lockdowns and vaccine mandates rallies across the country at the end of last year. Tens of thousands of Victorian citizens took to the street to protest Premier Dan Andrews’ pandemic bill and the lockdown, which is the world’s longest.