Premier Daniel Andrews has expressed disappointment that nobody at the top of his government appears to know who decided private security guards should be used in the state’s quarantine hotels.
In an appearance on Friday afternoon at the inquiry into the quarantine hotels system, Mr Andrews also said Health Minister Jenny Mikakos was primarily responsible for the troubled system – directly contradicting evidence she gave on Thursday.
Mr Andrews told the inquiry he did not know who made the decision to use private security guards at the hotels and that he had called for the inquiry to get “exactly that answer and quite a few others.”
“[Hotel quarantine] was supposed to contain the virus. It didn’t. Therefore something has gone wrong,” he said. “That’s why we set this process up.”
Health department in charge
Mr Andrews said there should have been no confusion about who was in charge of hotel quarantine and who was accountable.
He agreed with Ms Ellyard that it was concerning that Ms Mikakos and the head of her department Kym Peake did not see themselves as having ultimate accountability.
Ms Mikakos and department secretary Kym Peake said their department was the control agency, there were shared responsibilities between departments and agencies.
“The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), as the designated control agency was primarily responsible for the program,” he wrote in his statement.
“I understood, at the start of the program, that the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) would be responsible for aspects of procurement and logistics.”
The Premier wrote that at the start of the hotels initiative, he regarded Ms Mikakos and Jobs Minister Pakula as responsible for informing Cabinet about the hotels program.
Soon after, the health department was made lead government agency in charge of the quarantine hotels.
“I then regarded Minister Mikakos as accountable for the program,” he wrote. “The Crisis Council of Cabinet was provided with regular reports by Minister Mikakos containing data relevant to Victoria’s response to the public health emergency, key insights from the data, as well as other updates, including in relation to the program.”
The Premier then wrote that on 8 July, once problems with the hotels program had become clear, responsibility was shifted to the Justice Department.
Mr Andrews wrote that, while he believed Ms Mikakos was in control of the hotel quarantine program, he ultimately took responsibility.
“As Premier and chair of the Crisis Cabinet Council, I regard myself as being ultimately accountable for the Victorian government and any decisions made about the structure and operation of the program,” he wrote.
Sourced By: The Age