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Australian Senate Approves Inquiry on Excess Mortality

The Senate has voted in favour of a call for an inquiry into excess deaths. This does not create a committee to hold such an inquiry, or refer the matter to one—but it is, however, symbolic of growing disquiet among politicians over the issue.

The motion, moved by United Australia Party Senator Ralph Babet, passed by 31 to 30 on Feb. 26, with Labour and the Greens opposed.

Senator Babet had previously asked the Senate to investigate excess mortality in Australia in March last year, but couldn’t find majority support.

The motion required the Senate to acknowledge “that the concerning number of excess deaths observed in Australia in 2021 and 2022 has continued into 2023 as evidenced by all-cause provisional mortality data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics” and that there was “a need for further inquiry as to the reasons for these excess deaths.”

Excess Mortality Cannot Become Normalised: Senator

“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.

“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.

“We owe it to all Australians, especially the family and friends of the tens of thousands who have died prematurely since the start of 2021 to identify what is causing Australia’s tragic rise in all-cause mortality because it’s not just COVID.”

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That concern was echoed by Liberal Senator Gerard Rennick, who noted: “There was a rise in 2021 of 10,000 deaths in Australia, despite the fact that Australia did not have an increase in population that year.”

He said Australia needed to ask the question of why the number of deaths rose after the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“So the question is this: what caused the rise in deaths by 10,000 people? And those deaths occurred in the last eight months of the year. So in the first four months of the year, before the COVID vaccine rollout, there was no increase in deaths from the prior year,” he said.

“That means that the jump in deaths was over a thousand people per month from May onwards. Those figures are recorded in the ABS figures. They are a fact.”

Opposed by Government

For the government, Senator Tim Ayres opposed the motion, saying: “Some people in the political system, of course, where they see fear, see opportunity. Where they see a capacity to divide people, to isolate them, and to frighten them, that is an opportunity.

He said the ABS regularly published mortality reports to ensure data transparency.

“Now, any person, any researcher, has access to that data. The trick, of course, with data is you’ve got to have the skills, you’ve got to have the academic background, you’ve got to have the research capacity to be able to interpret it intelligently, to analyse it properly and to report on it in a way that is true and ends up being truthful. And that is one of the problems here. You can take any bit of data and produce the kind of material that is being generated by some of those on the other side of this argument.”

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