Cracks are appearing within the Victorian Government over the state’s bungled COVID-19 response.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton claims he was not involved in the decision to impose the controversial 8pm-5am curfew in Melbourne during the stage-four lockdown restrictions. Whereas Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton says he believes that the decision was made by Sutton, adding that the police were told of the curfew just hours before it was announced:
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said on Thursday that as far as he knew, the curfew was “the Chief Health Officer’s” decision, and police had learnt of the measure only hours before it was announced.
His comments contradicted those of Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, who on Tuesday said while he was consulted, the curfew was implemented via “a separate decision-making pathway” that did not involve him…
On Tuesday, the CHO more explicitly stated that the decision had not been made at his instigation. “I was consulted on it, but it was a separate decision-making pathway,” he told radio 3AW.
On Thursday, Mr Patton suggested otherwise when asked whose idea the curfew had been. “As far as I know, (it was) the Chief Health Officer’s (idea),” he told ABC radio.
“Our policy area received a copy of these guidelines a couple of hours before they were to be brought in for our information, as I understand, for us to be able to operationalise them (sic). We haven’t had any input into them.”
Meanwhile, the inquiry into Victoria’s botched hotel quarantine program has heard Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton wanted to be in charge of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic but was blocked.
Department of Health and Human Services deputy secretary Melissa Skilbeck told the inquiry yesterday that Sutton was against her decision to appoint someone other than him to the task, while she said she was also not aware that federal Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy had offered Sutton Australian Defence Force troops to be used in the program instead of security guards:
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy offered Australian Defence Force troops to his Victorian counterpart, Brett Sutton, to be used in the state’s bungled hotel quarantine program instead of security guards, an inquiry has heard.
The probe into the fiasco heard Professor Sutton, as Victoria’s top public health official, wanted to lead the state’s response to the pandemic but was denied by the Department of Health and Human Services…
On Thursday, Ms Skilbeck said she decided not to appoint Professor Sutton as state health controller overseeing the response to the pandemic against his wishes.
“My view then, and quite frankly my view now, is that the overwhelming role that we needed for an effective response from the emergency management framework was one of co-ordination of logistics and other assistance,” she said.
When Mr Ihle asked Ms Skilbeck if Professor Sutton was against the decision to appoint someone other than him, she said: “Yes, he was.”
Unbelievable stuff. Instead of letting a public health expert oversee a public health emergency, the task was left to bureaucrats who then employed untrained supermarket security and Uber drivers.
The whole system was set up to fail from the very beginning.