COVID Elimination Strategy Could Cost Australia $319 Billion

By Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at
September 29, 2020Updated: September 30, 2020

Economic modelling by Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has found COVID-19 elimination strategies in Australia could cost the country $319 billion, or 23 percent of national GDP from this year until 2022.

The cost of eliminating the virus via harsh lockdowns is 2.2 times the total annual value of the Australian government’s 2018-19 spending on defence, education, health, and welfare combined.

“Eliminating COVID-19 means eliminating jobs, freedom, and hope,” said Daniel Wild, Director of Research at the IPA and co-author of the Medical Capacity: An Alternative to Lockdowns report.

“Lockdowns have brought about one of the greatest regressive transfers of wealth and power in Australia’s history,” he said.

“Young Australians, small businesses, the self-employed, and those otherwise embedded in the productive, private parts of the economy have been smashed, while public servants and bureaucrats are flourishing,” he said pointing to the approximately 1.4 million Australians out of work since March.

The IPA called for an end to the elimination strategies and arguing that an approach based on “medical capacity” which is risk-based, proportionate, and targeted would serve Australia better.

Debate has raged between federal and state governments on the appropriate strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The federal government and New South Wales state government have adopted a “suppression” strategy, preferring not to maintain tight restrictions, opening borders, and upgrading contact tracing measures.

While Daniel Andrews’ Victorian state government has followed an elimination strategy that was criticised by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Coatsworth that aims to reduce the number of infections in Australia to zero.

Andrews has also implemented an “aggressive suppression” strategy which has come under fire for harsh lockdown restrictions, including opening retail and hospitality businesses only when an average of five or fewer traceable new COVID-19 cases are occurring per fortnight.

Notable Victorian legal professionals, including former judges and lawyers, have also criticised the government for granting extra powers to police to detain individuals believed to be breaching COVID-19 health directives.

Gigi Foster, professor at the University of New South Wales’ School of Economics, has been a long-running critic of harsh lockdowns saying they will cause additional mental and psychological harm to individuals.

“I do not think the goal is best stated as ‘to contain the virus,’ but rather to maximise human welfare in a world with the virus,’” she told The Epoch Times on Sept. 29.

“This means … aggressive protection, with quarantine, testing, and other measures where necessary, for vulnerable populations, and letting everyone else get back to school and back to business with whatever precautions they feel are appropriate to their individual and family circumstances,” she added.