Senator Roberts has strongly criticised the Albanese Government's proposed COVID-19 inquiry, labelling it as a mere attempt to evade a full-fledged Royal Commission with the power to compel testimony. Senator Roberts' has announced he is pushing for a comprehensive COVID-19 Royal Commission.
A Toothless Inquiry and Accusations of Evasion
The Albanese Labor government's recent announcement of an inquiry into Australia's COVID-19 response has not been received well by Senator Roberts. He contends that such an inquiry lacks the necessary teeth to delve into the country's pandemic response complexities effectively.
Senator Roberts firmly stated, "Anything less than a COVID Royal Commission is a betrayal of everyday Australians and small businesses that have been significantly impacted by our COVID response over the last three and a half years." His concern primarily revolves around the inquiry's perceived inability to hold individuals accountable and bring the truth to light.
Comparing the situation to a previous Royal Commission, he pointed out, "One of the first things the Government did when elected was call a Royal Commission into Robodebt. If that justifies a Royal Commission, how can the government argue that one of our history's most expensive and invasive responses doesn't? They can't unless they're trying to run a cover-up."
The Need for Transparency and Accountability
Senator Roberts underscored the magnitude of the COVID-19 response, which involved an expenditure of over $500 billion in printed money, contributing to the ongoing issue of inflation. He also highlighted the stark reality of 30,000 excess deaths this year, with 50% not attributed to COVID-19. Moreover, the pandemic response resulted in one of the most extensive invasions of civil liberties in modern Australia, all shrouded in secrecy.
Rather than relying on a limited inquiry, Senator Roberts firmly believes that a Royal Commission is essential to peel back the layers of secrecy that politicians and bureaucrats have hidden behind at the state and federal levels for years.
The Path Forward: A Senate Inquiry for a COVID Royal Commission
Senator Roberts is determined to take action. He announced, "Before the end of the year, I will ask the Senate to replace the Prime Minister's Clayton's inquiry. Instead, we will request the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee to report and recommend terms of reference for a COVID Royal Commission to be established in the first half of 2024."
In doing so, Senator Roberts aims to ensure that the pandemic response is subjected to the rigorous scrutiny and transparency that only a Royal Commission can provide. As the debate intensifies, the future of the COVID-19 inquiry and the potential for a full-scale Royal Commission hangs in the balance, leaving many Australians eager for answers and accountability in these challenging times.