PM defends lockdown exclusion from COVID inquiry

Federal government announces COVID probe

States and territories should conduct their own inquiries into their handling of COVID-19 for the country to get a full picture of its pandemic response, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says.

Albanese announced a federal inquiry into the pandemic last week, which will look at vaccinations and treatments, as well as assistance for Australians abroad and financial support.

But the 12-month inquiry won’t examine lockdowns or state border closures as part of the probe, which has attracted criticism.

Albanese defended the decision not to include lockdowns in the inquiry, saying it was an issue for states and territories to examine.

“You would need effectively nine different inquiries, because each state did some things that were very different and we want to learn about what worked, what didn’t work and to project about the future,” he told ABC Radio on Wednesday,

“What [the federal inquiry] won’t do is look at decisions that are solely the decision of state governments. State governments, of course, can have inquiries and can examine their own actions as well.”

The federal probe will be headed up former NSW Department of Health director-general Robyn Kruk, Deakin University’s chair in epidemiology Catherine Bennett, and health economist Angela Jackson.

A final report will be handed down by September 30 next year.

Albanese said the inquiry would be independent and work with all of the state and territory governments.

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