Australia Covid review finds lockdowns, border closures and schools being shut were avoidable


Australia’s Covid response has been slammed for politically-driven health orders and the excessive use of lockdowns, finding they ultimately failed to protect the nation’s most vulnerable people,.

A damning independent review by former secretary to the prime minister Peter Shergold urged federal and state governments to learn from their mistakes and overhaul their processes in order to restore trust.

The report, funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation, John and Myriam Wylie Foundation and Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation, found closing the country’s schools was wrong. 

‘It was wrong to close entire school systems, particularly once new information indicated that schools were not high-transmission environments,’ the review found.

An independent review into Australia’s Covid response found actions taken exacerbated existing issues within the country, noting ‘overreach’ must be avoided in future crises

The 97-page Fault Lines review urged federal and state governments to learn from their mistakes and overhaul processes in order to restore trust in the decision making process

The 97-page Fault Lines review urged federal and state governments to learn from their mistakes and overhaul processes in order to restore trust in the decision making process

‘For children and parents [particularly women], we failed to get the balance right between protecting health and imposing long-term costs on education, mental health, the economy and workforce outcomes.

‘Rules were too often formulated and enforced in ways that lacked fairness and compassion. Such overreach undermined public trust and confidence in the institutions that are vital to effective crisis response.’

On Thursday, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews defended his Covid measures which resulted in the state enduring the world’s longest lockdown – lasting 262 days.

‘There are many things, many many things that we wish we didn’t have to do, many many decisions we wish we didn’t have to make,’ Mr Andrews said.

‘Obviously that is why when I say these decisions were not made lightly and they were the subject of debate and discussion and very careful consideration it’s for exactly those reasons because there are consequences.

‘The challenge is to weigh up those consequences versus having death rates like they did in Italy, in most of the United States and like they did in the United Kingdom. 

‘We certainly avoided some of the scenes, some of the things that we saw in different parts of the world.’

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews defended his Covid measures which resulted in the state having the world’s longest lockdown lasting 262 days

Mr Andrews then took aim at how the rest of Australia mocked the state saying, ‘we showed the rest of the country’.

‘We showed the rest of the country, many of whom thought it was good sport to have a go at Victorians, that when we stick together and have that sense of unity we can achieve anything and that is what we did.’

The review was carried out over a six month period and involved more than 350 confidential submissions and consultations from health experts, economists, public servants, business and community groups. 

It consisted of more than 160 submissions, 3,000 hours of research and policy and data analysis.

The review concluded various lockdowns and shutting of borders should have been used as a ‘last resort’.

'It was wrong to close entire school systems, particularly once new information indicated that schools were not high-transmission environments,' the review states

‘It was wrong to close entire school systems, particularly once new information indicated that schools were not high-transmission environments,’ the review states

‘Too many of Australia’s lockdowns and border closures were the result of policy failures in quarantine, contact tracing, testing, disease surveillance and communicating effectively the need for preventive measures like mask wearing and social distancing,’ the review stated.

‘Lockdowns, especially when targeted at a particular location, brought a deep sense of inequity among those who were most restricted. Lockdowns, overall, created a universal feeling that the pandemic was being policed rather than managed.

‘As with lockdowns, border closures – particularly between states and territories – should be used sparingly and only in extreme situations. They should be applied with greater empathy and flexibility.’ 

The review noted despite the pandemic affecting everyone, ‘its burden was not shared equally’. 

The review concluded various lockdowns and shutting of borders should have been used as a 'last resort'

The review concluded various lockdowns and shutting of borders should have been used as a ‘last resort’ 

DAMNING QUOTES FROM COVID REPORT 

‘It was wrong to close entire school systems, particularly once new information indicated that schools were not high-transmission environments.’

 ‘Rules were too often formulated and enforced in ways that lacked fairness and compassion. Such overreach undermined public trust and confidence in the institutions that are vital to effective crisis response.’

‘Lockdowns, especially when targeted at a particular location, brought a deep sense of inequity among those who were most restricted. Lockdowns, overall, created a universal feeling that the pandemic was being policed rather than managed.

It stated that the failure to plan adequately for the ‘differing impact of Covid’ meant the disease ‘spread faster and more widely’.

The review also noted while Australia had early success in limiting infection rates and deaths, in comparison to other countries, this success ‘started to falter in 2021’.

‘Cases and deaths have risen even further during 2022, dramatically reversing our early competitive advantage,’ the review notes.

‘As of September 30, 2022, Australia has recorded 378,617 cases per million people in 2022.

‘The latest available official data shows that by May 2022 excess deaths in Australia had spiked to almost 359 per million people in 2022.’

The document also said the ‘absence of transparency’ in the expert health advice ‘helped mask political calculations’.

‘Political calculation was never far from the surface of COVID-19 decisions,’ the review stated. 

‘It is neither realistic nor desirable to remove politics from decision-making in an accountable democracy.

‘But the absence of transparency in the expert advice going to leaders helped mask political calculations.

‘It was difficult to gauge the trade-offs that were being considered between health and economic outcomes. It made it easier for leaders to be selective in the ‘expert advice’ they followed.’

The review also noted while Australia had early success in limiting infection rates and deaths, in comparison to other countries, this success 'started to falter in 2021'

The review also noted while Australia had early success in limiting infection rates and deaths, in comparison to other countries, this success ‘started to falter in 2021’

The paper went on to explain the damning effect overreach had on the confidence of Australian citizens. 

‘Such overreach undermined public trust and confidence in the institutions that are vital to effective crisis response,’ it read.

‘Many Australians came to feel that they were being protected by being policed. These actions could have been avoided if we had built fairness into our planning decisions and introduced compassion into their implementation.’

The review recommended six measures to be implemented in order to avoid the same mistakes being repeated in another health crisis.

These included; establishing an independent, data-driven Australian Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, clearly defining national cabinet roles and responsibilities in a crisis, publicly releasing modelling used in government decision-making, regular pandemic scenario testing and the sharing and linking of data between jurisdictions.

The report also stated that the failure to plan adequately for the 'differing impact of Covid' meant the disease 'spread faster and more widely'

The report also stated that the failure to plan adequately for the ‘differing impact of Covid’ meant the disease ‘spread faster and more widely’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk