Responding to the announcement Labor has an agreement with the Government to establish a cross-party Senate Select Committee into the Government’s response to COVID-19, Amnesty International Australia campaigner Joel Clark said:
“We welcome the Senate Select Committee, but it will be an exercise in wasted time unless a human rights framework is included in its terms of reference.
“We’ve already seen how some of Australia’s most vulnerable people, such as remote Indigenous communities, have been overlooked in the Government’s response to the pandemic so far, and unless we put human rights at the centre of its response this will only further push some to the margins.
“It has to be acknowledged that the government has unprecedented power over our lives in responding to COVID-19. That power must be kept in check – this committee must be a tool to do that.
“We have an historic opportunity to emerge from this frightening crisis with a fairer and more just society; we can’t squander that opportunity by allowing the Government to act unilaterally outside Parliament’s usual checks and balances nor this Committee be fraught with politicking.”