Australian PM Wants UN-Inspired WHO Inspectors

By Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.
April 23, 2020Updated: April 30, 2020

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told SkyNews on April 23 that he wants to grant new powers to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to enable it to more quickly alert the world to future outbreaks that have the potential to become pandemics.

During an interview on Paul Murray Live, the prime minister said the powers that he’s suggesting would be similar to those of United Nations (UN) weapons inspectors. The powers would grant the WHO the authority to investigate threats to global health without restrictions.

Morrison also expressed hope that the WHO would learn lessons from the current pandemic. While at the same time, he acknowledged that the WHO did not change after the Ebola outbreak, even though it had received many recommendations from an independent review that followed.

Had the WHO alerted the world to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic sooner: “That could have potentially saved thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of lives,” Morrison said.

In recent days, Australia’s foreign affairs minister Marise Payne said the government will call for an independent review China’s and the WHO’s handling of the outbreak, and how critical information was disseminated to other countries. Morrison said Payne had his strong support. However, since this independent review is a long way off, Morrison wants to implement changes now.

Speaking to World Leaders

Following conversations with world leaders, Morrison wrote a chain of remarks on Twitter, saying they discussed the WHO, vaccines, and the economy. Morrison said, “There’s a clear view that we need to have a transparent and independent process to look at what’s gone on here.”

In his interview with SkyNews, Morrison said the WHO needed to be able to function in a way that other countries are given the critical global public health information they need without interference—alluding to China’s influence over the WHO, which has been raised as a concern recently by different countries.

The Australian government has been increasingly critical of the WHO over its handling of the pandemic. While the U.S. has suspended its financial contributions to the WHO, Australia will continue to support the organisation because of joint projects in the Pacific region.

The government has also ruled out the WHO carrying out the independent review of the initial outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

Epoch Times reporter Caden Pearson contributed to this report.

Follow Caden on Twitter @CadenPearson