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Lockdowns had ‘massive’ $30 billion effect on Australian economy: Labor
Labor has reignited the debate over the government’s handling of the coronavirus vaccine program as research showed the delayed rollout cost the country more than $30 billion in potentially avoidable lockdowns last year.
Australia’s vaccine rollout began in February last year but suffered delays, and the program didn’t start to ramp up until July – a month after the Delta outbreak had begun in Sydney. Major lockdowns were subsequently ordered in NSW and then Victoria.
Shadow assistant treasurer Dr Andrew Leigh, a former professor of economics at the Australian National University, said the slow vaccine rollout had a “massive effect” on the economy last year.
Labor’s Dr Andrew Leigh.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer
“[Former prime minister] Malcolm Turnbull put it best, talking about this as being the greatest public policy failure of the post-war era,” Leigh said.
“We know it cost lives, but this research also shows that it had a massive economic cost as well.
“There was the ability – if the vaccines had been procured – to roll out the vaccine as quickly as Israel. And if we’d done that, we wouldn’t have had lockdowns that lasted longer than Israel’s lockdowns and Israel’s last lockdown was February 2021.”
Peer-reviewed research by Leigh and UNSW economics professor Richard Holden, which will be published in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy later this year, used Treasury’s estimates to calculate the effect of lockdowns in 2021.
Leigh and Holden calculated there were 68 days of national-equivalent lockdowns in 2021. Treasury put the cost of a national lockdown at $3.2 billion a week, which would add up to $31 billion over 68 days.
Australia knew about China-Solomons security deal before it was leaked
Australia knew about a secret draft security pact between China and Solomon Islands weeks before it mysteriously surfaced on the internet, with several government sources claiming the nation’s intelligence agencies played a role in orchestrating the leak.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne are under increasing pressure to reveal what they knew about the proposed agreement before the draft was leaked on March 24 and their actions since after the Australian government this week failed to convince Honiara to abandon the deal with Beijing.
The deal could base Chinese naval vessels and troops less than 2000 kilometres off the Australian east coast and cut off vital supply lines to the US and Asia in the event of a conflict.
Multiple government and security sources, who are not authorised to speak publicly but have direct knowledge of the events, confirmed that the Australian government was aware of the proposed agreement weeks before it was mysteriously posted online.
Two of those sources said Australian intelligence agencies played a role in leaking the document in an effort to put public pressure on China and Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s government, but declined to outline what role that was.
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This morning’s headlines at a glance
Good morning and thanks for your company.
It’s Friday, April 22. I’m Ashleigh McMillan and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.
Here’s what you need to know before we get started.
- Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has tested positive to COVID-19 after a day of campaigning on NSW’s south coast, forcing him to fight the election campaign from his Sydney home. Albanese is expected to intensify his number of media commitments, with his seven days of isolation necessitating a radical change in his campaign strategy. Senior Labor figures such as Richard Marles, Penny Wong, Jim Chalmers and Mark Butler are likely to play a greater role over coming days.
Australia knew about a secret draft security pact between China and Solomon Islands weeks before it mysteriously surfaced on the internet, with several government sources claiming the nation’s intelligence agencies played a role in orchestrating the leak. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne are now under pressure to reveal what they knew about the proposed agreement.
- After research showed the delayed rollout cost the country more than $30 billion in potentially avoidable lockdowns last year, Labor has reignited the debate over the government’s handling of the COVID-19 vaccine program. Shadow assistant treasurer Dr Andrew Leigh, a former professor of economics at the Australian National University, says the slow vaccine rollout had a “massive effect” on the economy in 2021.
Dozens of the country’s top doctors have backed calls for a crackdown on the scandal-tainted cosmetic surgery industry. Many of the 800 responses from doctors and patients received during a review by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) demanded an end to the unfettered use of social media by practitioners and laws to stop rogue medicos calling themselves “cosmetic surgeons”.
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