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The government response to COVID-19 has imposed restrictions on Australians unseen in peacetime. As Australians approach nearly a year of living under varying coronavirus restrictions it is timely to analyse governments response to COVID-19.
This publication examines the policy response adopted by the National Cabinet, and individual states and territories, from the beginning of March until the end of September. The paper will argue increasing restrictions were not adequately justified, and no clear exit strategy was formulated. Further, there was no consideration given to the deleterious impacts of lockdowns – on the economy or mental health. Lastly, important decisions about how to respond to COVID-19 were made by smaller, and smaller groups of people who were not adequately held accountable.
Although governments do have extraordinary powers to act during a public health emergency, like a pandemic, they cannot simply do as they please and principles of good governance must be maintained.