Lawyers Tony Neal QC, Rachel Ellyard and Ben Ihle submitted their suggested findings to Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry. They are as follows:
GOVERNMENT HAD NO PLAN
* Public servants were given just 36 hours to set up the program.
* There was no suggestion those who set up the program worked other than with ‘the best of intentions and to the best of their ability’.
* ‘Bad faith or corruption is not what the evidence shows.’
DHHS WAS IN CONTROL
* The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions played a substantial role but the Department of Health and Human Services was the control agency responsible for the program.
BRETT SUTTON SHOULD’VE BEEN IN CHARGE
* It was wrong to appoint people without public health expertise as the state controllers of the pandemic in February as it ‘influenced the way in which DHHS subsequently understood and acted on its responsibilities’.
* ‘Had the chief health officer or another person with public health expertise been appointed state controller … they would have had direct oversight of the hotel quarantine program and been able to directly influence the model of that program.’
NO ONE PERSON MADE THE DECISION TO USE SECURITY GUARDS
* ‘It can be best understood … as a creeping assumption or default consensus reached in the state control centre after the preference of Victoria Police was known.’
POLICE HAD PREFERENCE FOR GUARDS
* ‘It was not Victoria Police’s decision, but Victoria Police’s clear position that security would be preferable was a substantial contributing factor to the consensus.’
PREMIER SHOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD ABOUT ADF OFFER
* Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Chris Eccles should have told Premier Daniel Andrews his federal counterpart had offered Australian Defence Force support in an April 8 email exchange.
* But the initial decision not to have ADF boots on the ground was ‘reasonable and open – and no criticism should be directed to those who made those operational decisions’.
CONTRACTS WERE INAPPROPRIATE
* ‘There was insufficient supervision of those contracts to ensure compliance with the contractual terms, including as to subcontracting.’
* ‘The contracts with hotels and security companies should not have placed responsibility for PPE and infection control education on those contractors.’
HOTEL QUARANTINE RESPONSIBLE FOR SECOND WAVE
* Ninety per cent of second wave COVID-19 cases are attributable to the Rydges on Swanston outbreak in mid-May. Just under 10 per cent were attributable to the outbreak at the Stamford Hotel in mid-June.
* ‘The hotel quarantine program in Victoria failed to achieve its primary objective. The program that was intended to contain the disease was instead a seeding ground for the spread of COVID-19 into the broader community.’
* ‘The failure by the hotel quarantine program to contain this virus is, as at today’s date, responsible for the deaths of 768 people and the infection of some 18,418 others.’
PEOPLE IN QUARANTINE NOT LOOKED AFTER
* ‘The program did not always operate so as to meet the needs of those who