Australian Senator Rex Patrick Calls For Virus Royal Commission
CANBERRA, Australia — A key crossbench senator has launched a push for a royal commission into Australia’s coronavirus response as criticism of the bungled vaccine rollout grows.
Independent Rex Patrick is calling for a major inquiry with powers to force Prime Minister Scott Morrison to give evidence.
Senator Patrick said the initial response was successful before highly damaging and embarrassing failures in the vaccine rollout, as well as quarantine breaches.
“Last year Australia was the envy of many other nations with our success in flattening the curve,” he said on June 29.
“However the sad fact is that Australia has now fallen from being a world leader to being hopelessly at the back of the pack in terms of vaccinations.”
He said Australians were left vulnerable to highly infectious new strains of the disease with lockdowns and border closures causing devastation in some sectors of the economy.
“A royal commission inquiry is essential to establish precisely why Australia is now in the position we find ourselves in,” Patrick said.
“Only a royal commission can cut through government spin and secrecy to get at the truth of Australia’s national pandemic response.”
There is an ongoing Senate committee scrutinizing the virus response, but Senator Patrick wants an inquiry with powers to access cabinet documents. The South Australian is frustrated documents considered by the national cabinet of federal and state leaders are being kept secret.
“It’s hardly the envy of the world. In fact, we’re probably looking at the greatest public policy disaster of Australian political history,” he said to the press. Wayne Maxwell Swan is an Australian politician who is National President of the Labor Party. He was previously the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Deputy Leader of the Labor Party from 2010 to 2013, and the Treasurer of Australia from 2007 to 2013.
Morrison denied the federal government’s rollout was to blame for lockdowns with just four percent of Australians being fully vaccinated.
“I can’t stress enough that the major frustration here is the virus,” the prime minister said to the reporters.
“That is the major thing working against Australia. The reason we’ve got a lockdown is because of a pandemic and a virus.
“We have a lockdown because we have a new Delta variant which is proving to be highly contagious in a way that previous variants were not.”
(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Ritaban Misra)