Virus debacle: report points finger at Dan

 

Daniel Andrews "endorsed" the controversial decision to hire private security guards in Victoria's first hotel quarantine program, according to a new report.

The Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) report, authored by opposition MPs and was tabled in parliament on Tuesday, found the decision to use private security guards was made by the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The report also said the decision was "more likely than not" made by Premier Daniel Andrews' secretary Chris Eccles.

"We also find the Premier endorsed this decision given statements he himself made throughout the course of 27 March 2020," the report stated.

Mr Eccles resigned from his role as Victorian DPC secretary in October last year. 

Tuesday's report also found genomic testing "proved that 99 per cent of Victoria's second wave of COVID-19 cases was the result of the outbreak from the hotel quarantine program".

The PAEC, made up of Labor and Liberal MPs, ran a series of hearings last year where government ministers, stakeholders and industry representatives were questioned about the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report revealed "ministers would regularly avoid answering questions" during those hearings and accused the Labor committee chair of doing to "incredible lengths to interrupt questioning".

The report also found the Labor chair would "waste time or even mute non-government members' microphones on matters that ministers were sensitive about".

Premier Daniel Andrews rejected allegations during question that he was ‘not telling the truth’ about who hired private security guards. Picture: David Geraghty/NCA NewsWire
Premier Daniel Andrews rejected allegations during question that he was ‘not telling the truth’ about who hired private security guards. Picture: David Geraghty/NCA NewsWire

The report concluded that given the "failings of this committee and the limitations placed on the Coate Hotel Quarantine Inquiry, we consider that nothing short of a royal commission is required to properly interrogate the Andrews Labor Government and put Victoria's response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the microscope".

The report was authored by PAEC deputy chair Richard Riordan, Evelyn MP Bridget Vallence, Gippsland South MP Danny O'Brien and South Eastern Metropolitan MP David Limbrick.

A Victorian government spokesperson hit out at the report, saying it was "a party-political minority report written by the Liberals who sought to undermine Victoria's response to the pandemic".

"We've listened to the experts and backed the science, which has seen Victorians do what no other jurisdiction in the world has done - defeat a second wave," they said.

"There is no playbook for this pandemic - but we've learned the lessons and acted. Our hotel quarantine and contact tracing systems are now world-leading and keeping Victorians safe.

"We'll continue listening to the experts and supporting Victorians as we rebuild our economy.

The COVID-19 hotel quarantine inquiry - headed by retired judge Jennifer Coate - combed through 70,000 documents but failed to identify who made the decision to hire private security guards.

Premier Daniel Andrews launched that inquiry to probe failures in the quarantine program that sparked Victoria's deadly second wave of coronavirus transmissions, which killed 801 people.

Originally published as Virus debacle: report points finger at Dan



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