Premier Daniel Andrews has again said he played no role in deciding to use private security guards for Victoria’s hotel quarantine program, that led to the state’s deadly second coronavirus wave. In a fresh sworn statement tendered to the Hotel Quarantine Inquiry on Friday, Mr Andrews said he gave no advice or direction to the then-secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet Chris Eccles. “I expressed no view at all about the use of private security as part of the hotel quarantine program,” Mr Andrews wrote. “Decisions of that kind are of an operational nature in which I do not play a role.” The premier also said he was unaware at the time that Mr Eccles had spoken to then police commissioner Graham Ashton. He said none of the staff in his office could shed any light on who made the decision to use private security. The premier’s new affidavit to the hotel inquiry on Friday was part of a raft of new documents, including also those relating to Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s knowledge of the botched program. Professor Sutton was asked to provide a second sworn statement to the inquiry, after he at first gave evidence that he didn’t remember an email exchange with Euan Wallace about the quarantine program. In his new statement, Prof Sutton said he did recall emailing Professor Wallace on April 13, but he did not remember this when giving sworn evidence on September 16. “I now also have some recollection of speaking to Prof Wallace on the matters raised in those emails but do not recall that we came to any resolution or conclusion,” he said. Prof Sutton maintained that his public health team was not involved in the quarantine program and that they “did not have operational control” over parts of the public health response “for which they had a moral and perhaps legal responsibility.” He says the emails “highlight that public health were not in day-to-day decision making roles.” Victoria’s hotel quarantine program was established within 36 hours of a national cabinet meeting on March 27. Mr Ashton told the inquiry he learned private security would be used in the program sometime between 1.16pm and 1.22pm on March 27, but couldn’t recall who told him. Phone records established Mr Eccles spoke to Mr Ashton at 1.17pm. Mr Eccles resigned after the revelation, although he emphatically denied, and again in Friday’s documents, that he spoke to Mr Ashton about security. Outbreaks among security and hotel staff at Rydges and Stamford Plaza have been blamed for 99 per cent of Victoria’s COVID-19 second wave. The second wave resulted in more than 18,000 new infections and 750 deaths. Australian Associated Press
Premier Daniel Andrews has again said he played no role in deciding to use private security guards for Victoria’s hotel quarantine program, that led to the state’s deadly second coronavirus wave.
In a fresh sworn statement tendered to the Hotel Quarantine Inquiry on Friday,