The role of law in managing public health challenges such as influenza pandemics poses special challenges. This article reviews Australian plans in the context of the H1N1 09 experience to assess whether risk management was facilitated or inhibited by the “number” of levels or phases of management, the degree of prescriptive detail for particular phases, the number of plans, the clarity of the relationship between them, and the role of the media. Despite differences in the content and form of the plans at the time of the H1N1 09 emerging pandemic, the article argues that in practice, the plans proved to be responsive and robust bases for managing pandemic risks. It is suggested that this was because the plans proved to be frameworks for coordination rather than prescriptive straightjackets, to be only one component of the regulatory response, and to offer the varied tool box of possible responses, as called for by the theory of responsive regulation. Consistent with the principle of subsidiarity it is argued that the plans did not inhibit localised responses such as selective school closures or rapid responses to selected populations such as “cruise ship” passengers.
23 November 2013
'Pandemic Planning as Risk Management: How Fared the Australian Federation?' by Terry Carney, Richard Bailey and Belinda Bennett in (2012) 19(3) Journal of Law and Medicine 550 comments