Australian Centre for Disease Control

Australia’s COVID-19 response has been undermined by tragic failures, with two broad causes.

First, Australia was badly unprepared for a pandemic. As of January 2020:

  • the Commonwealth had not run a national pandemic drill since 2008
  • there were just 21 million masks in the National Medical Stockpile – less than one for every Australian – and no gloves, goggles or gowns at all
  • Australia was almost totally reliant on global supply chains for personal protective equipment, testing consumables, and medicine
  • the health system and particularly residential aged care facilities were already stretched to breaking point, with no latent capacity for a health emergency.

Second, when COVID-19 emerged, Australia’s response was undermined by breakdowns in our federal system, including:

  • the Commonwealth’s attempts to abrogate its constitutional responsibilities, including for aged care, international borders, quarantine, and Australians stranded oversea
  • the Commonwealth’s partisan attacks on Labor states, particularly over school and border closures

Global connectedness and environmental factors make future pandemics certain.

Australia is the only OECD country without a Centre for Disease Control (CDC), and health experts have been calling for an Australian CDC for more than three decades.

An Albanese Labor Government would improve pandemic preparedness and response by establishing an Australian CDC. The CDC will:

  • ensure ongoing pandemic preparedness;
  • lead the federal response to future infectious disease outbreaks; and
  • work to prevent non-communicable (chronic) as well as communicable (infectious) diseases.

All Australians will benefit from improved pandemic preparedness and response, as well as a renewed focus on preventing chronic disease.