The Queensland Government needs to improve its COVID decision making process after the absurd three-day Greater Brisbane lockdown, which thankfully wasn’t extended beyond 6pm last night. ANU Professor Peter Collignon yesterday criticised the lockdown on 2GB radio, as reported by the Courier-Mail:
A leading Australian infectious disease expert has criticised Greater Brisbane’s snap three-day-lockdown, saying it was an “unreasonable” over-reaction that “won’t solve the problem”.
Very true. It’s one of the worst decisions from the state government in a long time. The decision was made by Queensland’s (unelected) Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young whose advice is always followed by our Premier, based on what she has said in various press conferences. The Queensland Parliament is currently considering whether to extend the CHO’s extraordinary emergency powers out to 30 September. It will, of course, and there’s little point in making a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry, but I would suggest we urgently need to improve our COVID decision making process in Queensland. Greater use should be made of external experts such as Professor Collignon and others. With the Grand Chancellor cleaner’s partner also infected with COVID, there is the definite possibility the Queensland Government could tighten restrictions if infections increase, and we want to make sure any decisions are well made and subject to rigorous scrutiny.
I asked my old friend and former Treasury colleague Joe Branigan of Tulipwood Economics, who co-authored Getting Australia Safely Back to Work with Henry Ergas, what he thought about COVID decision making in Queensland and here’s what he replied:
The Premier (and Cabinet) must be the ultimate decision-maker. Jeanette Young’s objective is too narrow, so there’s no balance to the decision. The 3-day lockdown has been a total farce – why not request voluntary mask carrying in crowded places, with no lockdown? Silliness.
Absolutely. Thanks to Joe for letting me reproduce his reply.
Finally, I should note that, overall, the Queensland Government and other governments across Australia have largely done a good job in managing COVID, except for the hotel quarantine fiasco in Victoria and some harsh interstate border restrictions. Australia is clearly in a better position than most other countries. But we can still do better. Improving the decision making process in Queensland would hopefully prevent bad decisions such as the three-day Greater Brisbane lockdown in the future.
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