“When the COVID-19 case numbers began to escalate in Victoria by the end of June 2020, the Prime Minister wrote to Premier Andrews on three separate occasions (4 July 2020, 6 July 2020 and 11 July 2020) reaffirming the Commonwealth’s preparedness to continue the provision of ADF support to Victoria as needed,” the submission reads.
“Premier Andrews expressed his appreciation for the Commonwealth’s continued efforts in meeting previous requests for assistance, including ADF assistance (letters dated 5 July 2020, 7 July 2020, 12 July 2020 and 14 July 2020).”
But by then, Victoria’s second wave was already surging.
The submission also revealed that Victoria’s top public servant was offered ADF support for the quarantine program back in April.
The email was sent by the boss of the Commonwealth public service, Phil Gaetjens, to Chris Eccles, his equivalent in the Victorian public service.
Mr Gaetjens said the NSW government had received help with its quarantine hotels from the ADF.
“The Commonwealth would be willing to assist Victoria in a similar way if you wanted to reconsider your model,” Mr Gaetjens wrote.
“Thanks Phil,” Mr Eccles responded.
Private security guards, many working as casual subcontractors at the Rydges on Swanston hotel in Carlton and the CBD’s Stamford Plaza, spread the virus from returned travellers into the wider community. Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told the inquiry yesterday that, “with the benefit of hindsight”, the use of such an insecure workforce was unfortunate.
“I can see that using a highly casualised workforce, generally from a lower socio-economic background, where that means that poor leave provisions, limit how one can care for and financially support one’s family if unwell,” he said.