national-cabinet-meeting
Scott Morrison and the national cabinet (Image: AAP Image/SMH Pool, Alex Ellinghausen)

The now-cliched "unprecedented" should be retired as a descriptor of our times. They remain extraordinary, terrifying, uncertain, no doubt. But we’ve been at this long enough to reflect on what has worked for Australia, and learn from other countries.

Nonetheless, our politicians are still operating under a governance paradigm built hastily in the first weeks of the pandemic, whose elements were never sold to the public as permanent reforms. On Friday, a meeting of the national cabinet decided to appoint a member of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission to chair a new hotel quarantine inquiry. Four months ago, none of these forums even existed.

Premised on a war-like "state of exception", these bodies mostly emphasise the speed and decisiveness of elite messaging, at the potential expense of hearing and reacting to affected people’s experiences on the ground.