The coronavirus crisis was ‘the crisis that Australia didn’t have to have’. This paper lays out a detailed weekly timeline of the crucial first twelve weeks of the crisis, which were Australia’s window of opportunity for fighting the virus at the border instead of in the community. Had Australia treated the virus as border security threat, it could have quarantined a limited number of arriving passengers and thus insulated the rest of the country from the worst effects of the pandemic. Instead, Australia’s Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), relying on tainted World Health Organization (WHO) advice, seemed to regard the introduction of the coronavirus as unavoidable, consistently advising the National Security Committee of Cabinet (NSC) against taking sensible border precautions. In the first twelve weeks of the coronavirus crisis, the NSC relied far too heavily on this expert health advice of the AHPPC, neglecting its own primary responsibility for border security policymaking. By treating the coronavirus as a public health threat instead of as a border security threat, Australia needlessly introduced the virus into the general population.
Image courtesy of Jeff Nishinaka Paper Sculpture