The Federal Government has announced an inquiry into the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, some crucial aspects of the crisis appear to be out of its scope.

The inquiry, led by an epidemiologist, economist, and public administration expert, is facing backlash for its narrow focus. 

Unilateral decisions made by state and territory governments, including lockdowns and border closures, will not be up for scrutiny. 

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley has labelled the inquiry a “COVID cop-out”, calling for a full royal commission.

While the inquiry will not wield the same powers as a royal commission, it can call witnesses and look into the actions of governments during the pandemic. 

Senator Katy Gallagher says the government is taking the inquiry “very seriously”. Despite chairing a Senate inquiry that recommended a royal commission, Senator Gallagher argues that the focus is now on a “forward-looking process” rather than a “blame game”. 

The inquiry will be spearheaded by economist Angela Jackson, epidemiologist Catherine Bennett, and public administration expert Robyn Kruk. 

The Senate committee's report on COVID-19 response also highlighted the need to examine the impact of the government's response on First Nations communities and children. 

However, the inquiry leaves out decisions made solely by state and territory governments during the pandemic, such as lockdowns and border closures. 

The inquiry's scope covers COVID-19 responses since the pandemic's onset in January 2020, but it omits many of the decisions that had the most profound impact on peoples’ lives. The inquiry might reflect on Australia's strengths, but is also expected to highlight its weaknesses, like inconsistent communication, vaccine rollout blunders, higher death rates among those born overseas, and underutilisation of health professionals' expertise. 

The government has posted Terms of Reference for the Commonwealth Government COVID-19 Response Inquiry.