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The Royal Commission Australians deserve

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When the Senate Select Committee on Covid handed down its final report in April 2022, several failures in Australia’s pandemic response were identified. In total, 19 recommendations were made including: ‘The Committee recommends that a Royal Commission be established to examine Australia’s response to the Covid pandemic to inform preparedness for future Covid waves and future pandemics.’

The Chair of the Committee, Senator Katy Gallagher, said a Royal Commission was required because the government’s response had led to more cases and more deaths, stating:

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

At the time, with an election on the horizon, Anthony Albanese gave support to the idea of a Royal Commission but stopped short of a full commitment suggesting that ‘some form of inquiry’ would be held stating ‘Labor had not settled on the best mechanism’. One might be tempted to think the then opposition leader was hedging his bets, knowing he might soon be in the ‘hot seat’ should Labor win the election.

Following his successful election in May 2022, it took a full 18 months – and relentless lobbying – for Prime Minister Albanese to make good on the promise and, it appears, ‘some form of inquiry’ is exactly what we’re getting. Gone is any mention of the Senate Committee’s recommendation to hold a Royal Commission. Instead, the Prime Minister’s proposed Covid Inquiry is shaping up to be what can only be described as the most watered-down version of pseudo-investigation in the nation’s history.

Headed by an ‘independent’ panel of vaccine, lockdown, and masking advocates, the ‘deep inquiry’ might struggle to plunge the depth of conspiratorial questions like: ‘Did mandating vaccines have a net positive or negative effect?’ and ‘What is the cause of the excess deaths which began in 2021 and persist through 2023?’ Fortunately, though not for us, that panel has been gifted carefully curated terms of reference which make clear that ‘actions taken by state and territory governments will not be in the scope of the inquiry’.

So, let’s not worry about the border closures, masking, lockdowns, and mandates, shall we?

Australia’s Covid Inquiry is fast heading down the path of the UK’s own ‘non-inquiry’ which is striding toward a set of pre-determined conclusions, so far failing to ask the hard and necessary questions. But, there is hope. In October 2023, the House of Review and ‘team sanity’ came to the rescue with Senator Malcolm Roberts successfully moving:

‘That, noting that a fully empowered Royal Commission with appropriate terms of reference is necessary to learn from the unprecedented government response to Covid, the following matter be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 31 March 2024.’ And also, ‘The appropriate terms of reference for a Covid Royal Commission that would allow all affected stakeholders to be heard.’

The Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee is currently receiving submissions for this inquiry and the call has been answered. Over the Christmas and New Year period, while many were taking time out, a collaborative work has continued around the clock to deliver the most comprehensive Covid Royal Commission Terms of Reference document this country has seen so far.

The document provides terms of reference to ensure the questions Australians deserve the answers to, are asked. Questions like what was the scientific basis for pandemic management decisions, laws, and policies including masking, lockdowns, and mandates; what were the cost-benefit analyses into the potential adverse impacts from border closures and lockdown measures; and what was the scientific basis upon which governments enforced mandates when they knew Covid vaccines neither prevented infection nor transmission?

The collaborators are individuals and organisations, professionals and academics, community groups, and everyday Australians. They cross multiple disciplines – including healthcare, law, economics, education, science, politics, and media. These are the real experts of Australia’s pandemic response, the mandated, the locked down, the jab injured, the silenced, and the separated; those who lived the consequences of every single policy decision that was decreed.

Compiled by legal team Julian Gillespie, Katie Ashby-Koppens, and Peter Fam, the 107-page document encompasses more than 50 terms of reference and calls over 80 expert witnesses. More than fourteen separate organisations representing hundreds of stakeholders have contributed to the document with the signatories’ list reading like a who’s who of Australia’s ‘truth-telling’ post-pandemic movement.

Contributors shared their views on why Australians deserve a Covid Royal Commission that asks the real questions:

‘In Australia, a Royal Commission is the only mechanism we have to investigate matters of great importance in a manner independent of Government. In our country, the people are right to expect the Executive to operate on a foundation of transparency and accountability.’

To this they add:

‘Covid saw historically unprecedented (and often unexplained) government restrictions on the rights and liberties of Australian citizens. There was widespread confusion and conflict. Holding a Royal Commission into the government response to Covid is essential to ensure not only that we actually learn from what occurred, but to maintain the integrity of and trust in Australia’s democratic structure.’

Peter Fam, Maat’s Method & Children’s Health Defense Australia:

‘A comprehensive examination, accountability measures, and the pursuit of justice are imperative to address the damage inflicted by our government’s handling of the Covid crisis. The initiation of a Senate committee investigation, aimed at defining suitable terms of reference for a Covid Royal Commission, marks the initial stride towards preventing Australians from ever experiencing again, what Professor Jay Bhattacharya has referred to as ‘the greatest public health mistake in human history’. It is crucial for the health and safety of all citizens that we scrutinise the reasons behind the imposition of unjustified and unscientific policies on Australians, devoid of a risk or cost/benefit analysis, causing untold harm, within a climate of stringent government-imposed censorship.’

Kara Thomas, Secretary, Australian Medical Professionals Society:

‘The 3 years of Covid saw Australian society turned upside down with unprecedented measures taken by governments, both State and National, far exceeding any previous measures taken even in wartime, with ‘lockdowns’,‘masking’, and enforced widespread ‘vaccinations’, for a virus that has been proven to have a low infection fatality rate and to be a significant risk only to the elderly and those with multiple co-morbidities. These measures were in direct opposition to Australia’s own pandemic policies published only in August 2019, and have resulted in severe economic, societal, and educational disruption with resultant developmental impairments in children, dramatically increased mental ill-health, alcohol abuse, suicides, and diseases consequential on the lifestyle changes and loss of medical services. It has to be asked why and how this happened and a Royal Commission is the way for this to be done with transparency and accountability, to ensure the mistakes can never be repeated.’

Professor Robyn Cosford, Chair, Children’s Health Defense Australia:

‘The average Australian doesn’t understand the sheer scale of the suffering that was caused by Australia’s pandemic response. Every day we hear from literally hundreds of Australians who were physically, financially, or psychologically devastated by the public health orders, and that’s still just the tip of the iceberg. A Pandemic Royal Commission will give these people an opportunity to be heard.

‘This collaborative to the Senate inquiry is arguably the most important document published in Australia in the post-pandemic era. As far as I’m aware, it’s the first time that all of our unaddressed questions have been compiled into a single document and served to our political representatives. We endorse it wholeheartedly.’

Joel Prior, Winston Smith Initiative:

The Covid Royal Commission Terms of Reference document is now live and its creators invite Australians to join the call for a Royal Commission by signing the document before it is presented to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee on January 12th, 2024.

This article is a republication of an article originally published here by the Spectator Australia.

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  • Dr Julie Sladden

    Julie Sladden is a doctor and writer with over 25 years clinical experience across multiple disciplines in Australia and the UK. She is a passionate advocate for professionalism, ethics and transparency in healthcare.

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