Safeguarding our future with an Australian CDC

An Albanese Labor Government will strengthen Australia’s response to future pandemics by establishing an Australian Centre for Disease Control.

Australia is the only OECD country without a CDC equivalent and the Federal Government has not led a national pandemic drill for 12 years.

Our nation went into the coronavirus pandemic with less than one mask for every Australian in the National Medical Stockpile, an over-reliance on global supply chains, and badly stretched aged and health care systems.

These failures have contributed to the tragic deaths of almost 900 Australians – 673 of whom were aged care residents and 28 linked to the Ruby Princess debacle – and more than 27,000 infections.

To strengthen Australia’s preparedness and lead the national response to future pandemics, the CDC would:

  • House surveillance experts and systems to monitor current and emerging threats;
  • Work with state and territory governments and service providers to improve preparedness in the health and aged care sectors; 
  • Manage the National Medical Stockpile, including analysing needs, procuring and managing stock and distributing supplies as needed;
  • Run regular preparedness drills on the scale of Exercise Sustain in 2008;
  • Work with other countries on regional and global preparedness.

As in other countries, Australia’s CDC would play a role in preventing health threats posed by chronic disease, as well as infectious diseases.

An Australian CDC has widespread support, including from the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, the Public Health Association, health experts, and other experts such as the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Quotes attributable to Labor Leader Anthony Albanese:

“Ask any Australian and they’ll tell you our response to the coronavirus pandemic was too slow, too reactive and too uncoordinated.”

“We can’t be left playing catch-up again. We can’t afford another Ruby Princess, or another tragic disaster in aged care. Our health, our lives and our economy all depend on us getting our response to future pandemics right.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing Mark Butler:

“Health experts have been calling for an Australian CDC for more than three decades. It’s time to get on with it.”

“We know that almost 90 per cent of Australian deaths are associated with chronic disease – but 38 per cent of the chronic disease burden is preventable. An Australian CDC would save lives and ease the pain of chronic illness."