Federal Labor is poised to announce an inquiry into how Australia handled the coronavirus pandemic, with details expected soon.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is likely to make the announcement alongside Health Minister Mark Butler in Adelaide on Thursday, Nine media outlets have reported.
Labor went to last year’s federal election promising a royal commission into the COVID-19 years.
But the announcement is expected to fall short of a royal commission and instead propose a special commission of inquiry, after cabinet signed off on the plan on Monday, Nine reported on Wednesday citing unnamed sources.
Coalition frontbencher Bridget McKenzie said if Labor announced an inquiry it would be a broken promise.
“They are not delivering a royal commission and there is only one reason why … they would have to look at the different jurisdictions’ reactions,” she told Sky News on Wednesday.
Two COVID-19 responses that needed the scrutiny of a royal commission were the long-running lockdowns in Victoria and the shuttering of the Queensland-NSW border, she said.
A royal commission would need to be signed off – via letters patent – by state leaders.
Former Liberal prime minister Scott Morrison led the national response to the pandemic, which began in early 2020 and sparked the lockdowns of cities and the imposition of national and international border restrictions.
The country returned to relative normality in the second half of 2022.