The next step will be to launch a formal inquiry

Persistence paid off yesterday for Senator Ralph Babet, of the United Australia Party, as the Senate voted in favour of his fourth motion calling for further inquiry into the causes of Australia’s excess deaths.

The Australian Senate previously voted against three similar motions put forward by Senator Babet over the past year. While yesterday’s motion calling for agreement that there is “a need for further inquiry” into the causes of Australia’s excess mortality is more symbolic than practical in its outcome, Senator Babet says that this is an important step in the right direction.

“This motion is symbolic of a changing sentiment around this issue, and I am not aware of any other parliament in the world who has admitted that excess deaths are worthy of inquiry,” Senator Babet said in a statement released after the vote. 

“Now that the Senate has admitted that there is a problem, we must proceed to a robust inquiry that will provide these answers to the Australian people and put to bed any speculation. We cannot allow excess mortality to be normalised.”

Excess deaths began to rise in Australia in 2021, peaking in 2022, and sustaining into 2023. While the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has produced excess mortality reporting up to the first quarter of 2023 only, the latest provisional mortality statistics show that for the first three quarters of 2023, mortality remains 9.9% above the expected baseline.1

Estimates of Australia’s excess mortality vary depending on the model used, as evidenced by the ABS revising down its 2020-2023 excess deaths figures when it adopted new modelling in 2023. Similarly, the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) changed its modelling in February of this year, resulting in a reported 20,000 excess deaths vanishing into thin air.

Nevertheless, there is no disputing that Australia saw record-high excess deaths over the past three years, and that they cannot all be explained away by a single respiratory virus.

Just weeks ago, the Senate narrowly voted down Senator Babet’s third motion for further inquiry into Australia’s excess mortality. At the time, I wrote,

“In 2020, the people in charge shut the country down to save lives. Every single Covid-related death was meticulously documented in regular reports produced by state and territory health departments, and announced by Premiers in regular press briefings. TV news stations ran ticker counts.

“Yet for the thousands of Australians who have since died unexpectedly for unknown reasons, the people in charge have shown little concern or motivation to investigate.”

Yesterday, enough Senators had a change of heart on the subject to pass Senator Babet’s motion, 31:30. It is now only the left-wing Labor Party and the Greens who oppose inquiring into the causes of Australia’s excess mortality. See the full vote breakdown here.

Following the Senate’s acknowledgment that investigation into the causes of Australia’s excess mortality is warranted, it is expected that a motion will soon be put forward to initiate a formal inquiry.

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1

Acknowledging that ‘deaths above baseline’ and ‘excess mortality’ are not interchangeable, and that, when eventually published, the ABS excess mortality figure for the first three quarters of 2023 will likely vary from the ‘above baseline’ figure.

This article was first published at Dystopian Down Under

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