16th July 2020
The Premier of Victoria needs to steel himself for an apology to all Australians for the COVID Quarantine debacle in this State that had led to the contagion spreading more ferociously than when the first outbreak occurred. The virus has already breached the border with New South Wales.
Outbreaks of cases in New South Wales has been gnomically linked to the Melbourne cases, and there are frantic efforts in that State to try to contain the virus. The breach is no longer a possibility but a reality.
As this breakout spreads an apology will not be enough from the Premier and the, “I take responsibility for the Government I lead” mantra from Premier Andrews, will fall well short of the required atonement. That mantra is already losing credibility in this State.
This resurgence of the pandemic can be traced to inept quarantine procedures and management of people arriving in the country from overseas the original pathway that bought the pandemic to our shores.
In breaking news, the string of COVID 19 in the Housing Towers has been linked to the Quarantine Hotels, and the Black Lives Matter demonstration. Which way the virus travelled is unknown and will remain that way for some time as the latest data which may let us know, has been deemed secret and held back for the Judicial inquiry ensuring that there is a substantial time lag before we know.
It seems deliberate plan that by the time Inquiry releases the data, the pandemic will have passed and we will, ‘have moved on’, and all will be forgotten. I am sure that this will not happen and we will all remember the wink and a nod from the Premier, that precipitated the demonstration of 10,000 people who spectacularly broke the rules in complete defiance of the risks to the broader community who’s lives would seem, do not matter.
The Hon Jennifer Coate AM has been appointed to head up a Judicial inquiry into Victoria’s Hotel Quarantine Program that has shamed Victoria throughout Australia. The inquiry starting almost immediately, with a budget of $3 Million, may well prove to be wasted money for Victorians and the time and effort for this esteemed jurist who is starting from an unassailable position to conduct an inquiry that will not be able to place blame at anybody’s feet.
Unfortunately, this inquiry is nobbled before it began.
The Age recently released leaked emails sent in March from bureaucrats to other bureaucrats raising concerns about the ill-equipped Security Guards and demanded the Department of Health (DHHS) call Police in, to take control.
These emails provide an insight into the failures and why the good Judge will struggle to get a result.
The much-publicised incident of a traveller leaving his room for a smoke at 3 am prompting Department of Jobs on the 30th of March’20 to send yet another email demanding DHHS request Police support as the Guards were not adequate. Remembering this is the same Department who hired them without tender.
This is also the same Department that said its only responsibility was to provide the resources, not manage, or be responsible for the quarantine operations.
Can you see the pattern starting to develop?
Our Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton was quick to deny that he was responsible and claimed he did not see the management of Quarantine (the source of our pandemic) as his remit.
Apparently, the role of our Chief Health Officer does not extend to addressing the cause but only the outcome. Allegedly providing advice to the Premier on what we all must do to stop the spread, but the cause, not his problem.
The pattern develops further.
Emergency Services Victoria who also got the same emails and responded by advising the Jobs Ministry the guards could ring 000; what a solution?
They would be the same guards answerable to DHHS or is it the Jobs Ministry, or perhaps Emergency Services who knows? We suggest the Guards themselves had no idea.
Who was responsible for the oversight of the Guards, ensuring PPE was appropriately used, and Quarantine protocols adhered too; there were quarantine protocols, weren’t there?
This Quarantine is the only defence Australia has to the incoming virus we didn’t create, so closing the borders was the smartest move, but the holes left by incompetence is why we are where we are today.
It is a Debacle of the highest order, but how did it get to that, and why only in Victoria.
Accountability here has more changes than Melbourne’s weather.
Most likely because of inadequate preparation, unclear lines of responsibility, decisions based on perceived political interests, both internal politics as well as external, and incompetent people doing a job they are not trained to do and do not have the capacity to perform. We are not referring to the Security Guards.
The Age reported that there were at least five agencies involved in the decisions concerning the use of Security Guards instead of Police and the Military as happened in every other State: Health, Jobs, Premier and Cabinet, Emergency Management and VicPol.
There is an apt adage about the committee that was established to design a horse; it produced a camel, a truism for this debacle.
We shudder and hesitate to suggest that this outcome was what would be expected from the application of Matrix Management Principles promoted by Christine Nixon when Chief Commissioner; where there is a committee they all decide on a course of action.
That way nobody can take the fall –incompetence is masked, and accountability is totally voided by the individual. It was the committee, and that is precisely what has happened here, and that is why the good Judge will find it near impossible to identify who got it wrong. This is why the Premier is so relaxed about an inquiry, nebulous groups, not individuals, will be the ‘at-fault’– it was the committee.
If Premier had asked we would have given him the answer for a lot less than $3Milllion.