Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton insists he did not know until May that private security arrangements were in place at Melbourne’s quarantine hotels, despite responding to an email about the arrangements more than a month earlier.
- Brett Sutton says he stands by his evidence that he didn’t learn private security was in place until the guards fell ill in May
- He replied to an email in March about the use of private security forces but said he “did not register” this detail
- He says department officials decided which emails should be sent to the request
Professor Sutton said he had “registered nothing” about the use of personal security when he replied to the email sent to the Home Office by a department colleague.
The Age newspaper ran a chain of emails beginning March 27, the day hotel quarantine arrangements were made, asking Professor Sutton a series of questions about the Victoria program, including “What security measures are in place to.” to ensure compliance with the regulations ”.
Professor Sutton forwarded the email to a colleague who responded to the original questions. On the subject of safety precautions, they wrote:
“The instructions are made available to passengers when disembarking (sic) and are supported by the Victoria Police at the airport. Private Security is commissioned to provide VicPol with security in the hotels with escalation agreements if necessary. “
Professor Sutton replied to the email three minutes later and said, “Thank you very much.”
He later told the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry that he was unaware that private security arrangements were in place to guard returned travelers until the end of May after an outbreak occurred at the Rydges on Swanston Hotel.
When asked about the email at a press conference on Saturday, Professor Sutton said, “This particular email was a response to the Commonwealth asking some questions and was forwarded to someone in the hotel quarantine program command .
“I saw them respond to the Commonwealth and I thanked them for the responses they received, but I clearly did not register anything being said about private security.
“Otherwise I would have gone to the examination and said that I am aware of it.”
The department did not provide any emails for the request: report
The Age reports that the emails were not sent to the hotel quarantine request.
When asked, Professor Sutton said a team from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was tasked with finding and delivering the relevant emails that the investigation was looking for.
Professor Sutton said he made all of his archived and other emails available to the team.
“I know they checked all of the emails that matched the terms of the request that came from the request and provided all of those,” he said.
“I don’t know what the guidelines are. It is not my job to determine what is possible or not [to the inquiry]. „
Professor Sutton said his officers would “provide whatever else is required of the investigation,” and he would be ready to reappear if requested.
The state opposition has requested that Professor Sutton be recalled and re-examined.
The quarantine request for the hotel will be made again next week
The hotel inquiry on Friday announced that an “extraordinary meeting” would be held next week, but did not provide any further details.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” said Prime Minister Daniel Andrews on Saturday. “It is an independent process and it should be independent. It’s not about getting in touch with me. “
The announcement of the request followed the receipt of additional information through the request, including telephone recordings from some of the key players, including Prime Minister Daniel Andrews and senior officials.
In his testimony of the investigation in September, Professor Sutton said he could see that the use of a highly casual workforce of security guards was an issue.
The investigation also found that Professor Sutton was not overseeing the hotel quarantine program.
Mr Andrews said the chief health officer and his deputies had their confidence.
“And they should be trusted by all Victorians because they work very hard for all Victorians.”
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