Speaking to ABC Insiders on April 19, foreign affairs minister Marise Payne said it is essential that an independent investigation probe the initial outbreak, which has since infected over 2 million people and caused economic crises in many countries.
“An independent review would identify for us about the genesis of the virus, about the approaches to dealing with it, and addressing it, about the openness with which information was shared” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), said Payne.
Responding to a question about who should conduct the review, Payne said there was precedence in past reviews of “egregious human rights issues.”
She then ruled out the WHO. “That strikes me as a bit poacher and gamekeeper,” she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the foreign affairs minister has his “very, very strong support” on the issue, adding that transparency is important for global public health.
“Its important that the WHO … and all parties part of the WHO, act with great transparency. … Its important for public health globally that there is a transparency in the way that you can get access to this important information early,” he told reporters in Canberra on April 21.
It is known that by at least mid-December, the CCP was aware that human-to-human transmission was occurring in the virus epicentre Wuhan, meaning that the virus was ripe for spreading. Yet, the CCP did not admit this until Jan. 20 after over 5 million people had left Wuhun.
Another three days passed before Chinese authorities finally implemented the first containment measures for Hubei province—but it was too late. The disease had already spread around the country and overseas.
And yet at the time, the WHO advised against countries like Australia implementing international travel bans on flights from China—but Australia acted against the WHOs advice and banned travel.
— DFAT (@dfat) April 19, 2020
Payne went on to say that Australia shares the same concerns that the United States has itself identified in relation to the WHO.
Despite these concerns, the prime minister recently said Australia was not cutting funding to the WHO. Australia has a joint project with the WHO in the Pacific region.
This came after U.S. President Donald Trump cut US$400 million (AU$635 million) in annual funding to the WHO.
Former Australian foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer agreed with Payne. He believes that the worlds policy toward China needs a change and that China needs to be held accountable for the crisis they unleashed.
China must be held to account for unleashing a global catastrophe https://t.co/V9zczQY9u6
— Alexander Downer (@AlexanderDowner) April 19, 2020
CCP Response and Cooling Relations
On April 20, the CCPs Australian foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang denied that the Chinese regime did anything wrong, and accused Australia of dancing to Americas tune.