Victoria Police resposible for quarantine failure

Via News, Victoria Police may be good at handing out fines and arresting libertarian bogans but actually doing their job is beyond them:

The decision to use private security can be traced back to three crucial meetings on March 27 as officials rushed to “operationalise” the Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that all returning travellers would go into hotel quarantine.

At lunchtime on March 27, the national cabinet decided to enforce mandatory quarantine.

Before the Prime Minister has even announced it, then Victorian Police Commissioner Graham Ashton had sent a text message to the Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw insisting the AFP sort it out.

“Mate. Question. Why wouldn’t AFP guard people At The Hotel?” Ashton wrote to Kershaw at 1:12pm on March 27.

At 1:16pm, just four minutes after the first text with Kershaw, the Victorian Police Commissioner was also busily texting the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Chris Eccles wanting to know whether police will be involved.

By 1:22pm there was an answer. He told Kershaw that private security will be used.

“Mate. My advise [sic] is ADF will do passenger transfer and private security will be used,’’ Ashton wrote.

“OK that’s new,” Kershaw replied.

“I think that’s the deal set up by our Department of Premier and Cabinet,” Ashton said.

“I understand NSW will be a different arrangement. I spoke to Mick F [NSW Police Commissioner, Mick Fuller].”

By 2pm, there was a meeting involving then Victorian Police Commissioner Graham Ashton, Police Minister Lisa Neville and Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp.

In scribbled notes, Graham Ashton wrote “Private security, “Police back up”, “ADF”. Crisp noted: “Private security” and “ADF”.

Just moments later, at 2:17pm on Friday afternoon, the Prime Minister walked out into his courtyard at Parliament House to announce the hotel quarantine plan that will operate from midnight on Saturday night.

The clock was ticking as the states rushed to get the hotel quarantine scheme up and running in less than 36 hours.

At 4.30pm, the first teleconference on “Operation Soteria”, Victoria’s hotel quarantine scheme was held. On the phone was Crisp, Assistant Commissioner Mick Grainger and Australian Defence Force Colonel John Molnar.

This meeting was recorded.

“I understand the preference of Victoria Police, or the Chief Commissioner, is that private security be the first line of security, and the police to respond as required. Is that your understanding, Mick?” Mr Crisp said, according to a transcript.

“Absolutely that’s our preference,” Mr Grainger replied.

It’s all on the tape. During the meeting, text messages continued to fly between the Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp and Victoria Police.

Crisp even stepped out of the meeting to take calls from the Chief Commissioner of Police Graham Ashton and he then texted Grainger, who was in the meeting he stepped out of, about what Ashton wanted.

“I stepped out to speak to Graham and I let him know you’re in this meeting as he’s only just come out of VSB. He made it clear in VSB that private security is the first security option at hotels/hotels and not police,’’ he wrote.

In the face of such mounting evidence, it’s bizarre that Ashton tried to tell the inquiry that he didn’t have a preference over who was in charge of hotel quarantine.

“Absolutely untrue,” Ashton replied, under questioning from – get this – Richard Attiwill QC, acting for the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

That’s right, the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s QC was pointing out to the police commissioner that he had that preference and that preference was that police not do the job.

So, make no mistake, when Premier Dan Andrews told the inquiry on Friday that there was “collective responsibility” he was also talking about the cops.

As is often the case with these things, it is human failing and ineptitude rather than a conspiracy that is responsible.

Dan Andrews and the Graham Ashton should both resign. Nearly 800 Victorians are dead because of them.

David Llewellyn-Smith


  1. So Morrison announces a Quarantine program at short notice, the States scramble to get something operational in time out despite Quarantine being a federal responsibility….

    I get that they dropped the ball, but surely the Federal government mandating something like this so rapidly and just palming off the responsibility to the states if a HUGE factor in it all….

    • Unfortunately in this country responsibility falls to the bottom while $%&* floats to the top.
      I’m surprised they haven’t blamed the poor immigrant cleaning the rooms.

    • All the other states managed quarantine and contact tracing. We had guards having sex with the guarded. 700+ people are dead. All we get is a circus.. Bring on the dancing bears

      • And NSW had private guards contract it about a month back, one was fined for running around after testing….. But after your experience they swooped in fast…. Also an LNP state so media had to keep it on the down low..

        • Did you watch the circus?? I did. These turds have killed 750 people. Those guards did not appear just by magic. No prior inconsistent statement was put from the news conferences it was BS from start to finish. If they were fair dinkum they would refer it to Worksafe for a workplace manslaughter investigation and prosecution and leave the sentencing to the criminal courts. The chances of such a referral is zero as the participants in that “inquiry” do not care about the people who died.

    • *The Police Association* not wanting the job. Don’t forget who pulls the strings attached to the Premier.

    • Of course, they would much rather be out harassing and fining people for walking without wearing a mask and daring to wander more than 5klms from their home.
      Victorian Police have become errand boys/girls with shopping lists of fines to be procured.
      Their credibility has plummeted.

    • Why is that an elephant? It is logical that the police would not want the extra burden. Management of international returnees should always have been a Federal responsibility.

    • Sacking the cho from the pandemic plan and replacing him with ALP hacks was the elephant in the room.

  2. ignoratio elenchiMEMBER

    Graham Ashton retired in June. Word from that time is that the police union wasn’t interested in its members contracting COVID.

  3. The90kwbeastMEMBER

    It’s interesting all of this shows to me, that there were simply far too many cooks in the kitchen, and layer on top of that, the unclear responsibility of who does what between state & federal levels. Just too much bureaucracy to respond in an agile way to any threat, and it does not bode well for the future.

    One could actually use this as evidence to re-question why we have states again instead of just one national government, then councils to manage ground level stuff.

    • Heaven help us if it had been Morrison and his morons solely in charge. We’d be up to our ears in Covid like the rest of the world long ago, flooded with students and immigrants we “had to have”.

      The Premiers saved the country without doubt. Long live the Premiers in this instance. Tho I agree we’re ridiculously over-governed.

      I suspect that in the decades to come it may be the feds who get disbanded, leaving the states to govern locally and councils to administer.

  4. Is it being suggested here that the Victorian Labor Government could have given direct orders to Victoria Police? That seems about as likely as the WA Labor Government calling the shots on Rio Tinto.

    One much prefers the Ineffable “Yes Minister” Wisdom of Mr Chris Eccles, who works darn hard for that monster salary. The blame lies with Mr Nobody, or the Collective Governance. There isn’t anything in between.

  5. Yeah right and none of the involved parties con spired for their own desired outcome;) I call BS.
    Whole covid $hit show an engineered black swan to take out small business, wages & housing ..only dead folk I know are mid 30s to late 60’s suicide and 2 elderly relatives who died from natural causes whose funerals were appalling due to mandated masks, 1.5 metre seating so no comforting with funeral staff serving as token police. Shame Victoria Shame for swallowing your nightly news:))
    I also call BS on the covid ‘numbers’ reported daily.
    Folk should wake up to themselves, ask questions and look for answers & ways of thinking outside of abc 7 9 & 10 & SBS ( somemore Bull $hit

  6. Rushed arrangements made over a few days at the last minute when the need to quarantine was an obvious requirement once the pandemic started to spread beyond China. The people in charge of this country are hopeless..

  7. Vic Pol was initially the first (and obvious choice) of the DPC to run security in the hotel quarantine program. They were told, bluntly, “It’s not going to happen. We don’t want it. Force the issue…and you will regret it”.

    When push came to shove, the tail wagged the dog.

  8. We discussed the dangers of the virus and quarantine options well before our politicians recognise the need for such. AT FED level nothing was done except for an announcement by Scott giving the states few days to implement.
    And David finds only Dan at fault and no blame goes to the national leader.
    Why Scott did not start planning for this back in early Jan and had some kind of framework on how quarantine will be implemented with standard rules and guidelines all states to follow but allowing states to add features or flavors in order to address unique situation or requirement.
    Also, have federal taskforce to monitor and adjust/tweak this framework as conditions change or as we learn more about the virus and what works and what doesn’t.
    I am not looking here for excuses for Dan and I agree he did failed but Scot failed lot more – now that I understand under what circumstances state premiers had to implement these measure.

      • Spot on. Morrison and his morons woefully behind the eight ball from day one. Ditto with the fires and now economic reform. Beyond them.

    • @Niko same same with the fires hence my reference, the problem with this country is too many Royal Commissions and not enough accountability.
      It’s a joke that because of government of all stripes (including the myriad of Fed, State and local ) can’t run their departments competently that we have continual “investigations” into all manner of F up’s and always at taxpayers expense.
      After all that it still isn’t fixed and no one is to blame.
      No wonder I drink ..

  9. Im pretty sure (given my failures at procuring FOI so far) that few (if any at all) fines are in fact being paid. That indicates a massive break down in Rule of Law.