Australia

Tony Abbott joins calls for royal commission into Australia’s coronavirus response

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has joined calls for a royal commission into Australia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ex-Liberal leader believes the nation has performed well in global terms but needs a “long, hard look” at how the crisis was handled after it ends.

A group of Labor backbench MPs and independent senator Rex Patrick have also called for a royal commission.

Mr Abbott, who was health minister in the Howard government, said an inquiry should examine what has gone right and wrong.

“It might be in a year, it might be in a decade, it might be in a century – but there will be another pandemic,” he told an Institute of Public Affairs podcast.

“It’s important that our successors have the benefit of our considered reflections on what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong in this one.”

Mr Abbott said the probe could compare the responses of different states and nations to help plan for another pubic health emergency.

“I do hope that at the end of this process, rather than just saying, ‘well, thank God that’s over’, and just wanting to forget about it, there will be a serious inquiry, a royal commission if you like, at the national level.”

Labor national president and former treasurer Wayne Swan backed calls for a bipartisan inquiry.

Mr Swan warned against “witch hunts” like the royal commissions into trade unions and the pink batts scheme which were launched under Mr Abbott’s leadership.

“We want a bipartisan, fully-fledged, fair dinkum royal commission so that all the people who have suffered during these crises can see everything out there on the table,” he told the Nine Network.

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