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The Victorian hotel quarantine inquiry has been hearing today from the secretary of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Simon Phemister. It was his department that was tasked with recruiting security firms for the hotel quarantine inquiry.

Phemister told the inquiry it was not until after the 4.30pm state control centre meeting on 27 March that his department began recruiting security firms. And although the department bears operational responsibility for the use of security guards, Phemister said it was not his decision to use security guards for hotels.

Phemister’s submission to the inquiry states:


DJPR went into the first SCC meeting not knowing whether, and to what extent, private security would be required at hotels, and emerged with a direction: to engage private security to act as frontline security at quarantine hotels.

Phemister, as with every other witness before the inquiry so far, said he was unaware of who made the decision. Victoria police has denied that former chief commissioner Graham Ashton’s preference for security expressed in the SCC meeting led to the decision.

A late-night WhatsApp group chat between Victorian government officials on the day hotel quarantine was announced revealed concern about recruiting security firms to guard returned travellers.

Read the original article at The Guardian

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