Another COVID inquiry will be needed to examine a raft of "the most controversial" decisions taken by state governments at the height of the pandemic, according to Infectious Diseases expert Peter Collignon.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Health Minister Mark Butler, on Thursday, announced a 12-month probe into Australia's response to the global health crisis.
But the "limited" scope of the inquiry, which excludes actions taken unilaterally by states and territories, has sparked widespread criticism.
Prof Collignon said the inquiry was a "good thing" but had "very limited" terms of reference.
"The reality is, the states had a lot of effects on COVID, and in fact, most of the restrictions, be it lockdowns border closures, closing schools ... were all imposed by states and not in a uniform way," said the Australian National University professor.
"Restrictions did decrease the spread of COVID, and in fact, stop the spread for a year or two even. But they all have costs.
"And that's not going to be part of this inquiry, which really means we need yet another inquiry that does look at all those things, in my view, because they're the things that affected people the most and ... were the most controversial."
Mr Albanese said the inquiry would look at the government's responses and "give advice on what worked, what didn't, and what we can do in the future to best protect Australians from the worst of any future events".
A government-appointed independent panel will consider a number of issues, including provision of vaccinations, treatments and medical supplies as well as financial support for people and businesses, and help for Australians abroad.
In a statement, the Australian Medical Association said while the terms of reference "largely focus on the Commonwealth Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic it is difficult to see how it can avoid taking a close look at the actions of states/territories".
The opposition has taken aim at the government over the move to exclude state and territory decisions from scrutiny, with Peter Dutton accusing the government of creating "a witch-hunt against the Prime Minister's predecessor" and a "protection racket" for Labor Premiers.
"That is a shameful act from a Prime Minister, who has been elected by the Australian people to provide support and to lead the whole nation," he said.
"The significant issue of COVID needs to be properly investigated. That period of our history needs to be properly understood."
Human Rights Commissioner Lorraine Finlay, in a statement, said the move to exclude state and territory actions "means many key aspects of Australia's response will go unexamined".
"The lack of a stated focus on how Australia's COVID response impacted on the human rights of people is also concerning," she said.
"We need to ensure the rights and freedoms that were lost during the pandemic are better protected into the future and we need to ensure the human cost of the pandemic is properly understood so our emergency responses in the future don't leave people or their rights behind."
The inquiry will be conducted by a three-member panel, which includes Deakin University's chair in epidemiology Professor Catherine Bennett, former director-general of the NSW Department of Health Robyn Kruk, and health economist Dr Angela Jackson.
Prof Bennett told Sky News "it wasn't up to us to set the terms of reference" but added that states were also undertaking their own reviews.
"It is important to consider how it all worked nationally and one of the areas that is very much on the agenda is for example, communication and messaging, and actually what states are doing and how they come together through not just national cabinet, but how that story emerges nationally," she said.
"[That] is in the scope of this inquiry."
The new inquiry does not have the compelling powers of a royal commission nor it is a judicial inquiry, but it will consult widely and incorporate the findings of the more than 20 inquiries into the pandemic that have already taken place.
The inquiry has been welcomed by the ACT government.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the territory government will be an "active participant in the Commonwealth's inquiry where requested".
"The terms of reference for this inquiry are broad and will cover a lot of what a territory-level inquiry would review," he said in a statement.
"Within the national response, the primary objectives of the ACT government's COVID-19 public health response were to prevent the loss of life from the virus, achieve very high levels of community vaccination and reduce the burden of COVID-19 on our health system.
"On this front, our local response was particularly successful."
Mr Barr said the ACT Legislative Assembly has already conducted several inquiries into the pandemic response.
The inquiry will also have scope for governance and national governance mechanisms, including the national cabinet and the way that it functioned, and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.
Earlier this year, the then Health secretary Brendan Murphy said the probe would likely begin once the country emerges from recent waves of the virus.