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27 January 2022

Independent Senator Rex Patrick has called on the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader to respond to his push for the establishment of a Royal Commission to investigate and report on the Australian Government’s COVID-19 pandemic response. 

“A Royal Commission inquiry is essential to establish precisely why Australia is in the position we find ourselves in and to learn all the lessons we can from the Australia’s COVID-19 response,” Senator Patrick said. “We need to get moving on this before memories fade and documents are shredded.” 

“I first called for the establishment of a Royal Commission seven months ago. The need for a comprehensive national investigation is now greater than ever.” 

“On 19 January I wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison urging him to give positive consideration to the establishment of a Federal Royal Commission to inquire into and report on Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic response. I urged the Prime Minister to make the necessary financial provisions for such an inquiry in the forthcoming Federal budget.” 

“I have also written to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese urging him to lend bipartisan support to the establishment of a Royal Commission and, in the event that the Prime Minister is unwilling to progress this matter, for the Opposition to publicly commit to establish such an inquiry in the event that they are able to form government following the Federal election.” 

“My call for a Royal Commission has already been backed by independent MPs and Senators including Helen Haines and Zali Steggall who is working on draft terms of reference.”

“A number of Coalition and Labor MPs have expressed support for establishment of a Royal Commission. These MPs include Julian Hill, Anika Wells, Patrick Gorman and Anne Aly on the Labor side; and Matt Canavan, Sam McMahon and Gerard Rennick in the Coalition. One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson has also expressed support.”

“In answer to a question at the National Press Club on Tuesday, Mr Albanese gave in-principle support for the idea of a Federal inquiry, but was hesitant and non-committal on the timing, scope, or indeed whether an inquiry should take the form of a Royal Commission.” 

“I have not yet received a reply from either Mr Morrison or Mr Albanese.”

“I urge them to declare their positions on the question of a Royal Commission without delay so that their intentions are clear before the Budget and the coming election campaign.”

“A decision needs to be taken without delay if a Royal Commission is established and make significant progress in inquiries this year.”

“Only a Royal Commission will have the authority, power and scope to cover the full breadth and depth of issues arising in Australia’s COVID-19 response. Only a Royal Commission can pursue a fully independent investigation, and deliver authoritative findings to serve as a guide for future policy.”

”Governments must deal with the continuing challenges of the pandemic, but many response actions are being wound up and ongoing work can’t delay what is a very necessary and proper process of scrutiny and accountability.”

“A Royal Commission is an essential part of our nation’s COVID-19 response.”

Copies of Senator Patrick's letters to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader are available here.