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Liberal Nationals to reopen PAEC Inquiry into Victoria’s COVID-19 response

The Liberal Nationals will seek the support of members of the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) to reopen the Inquiry into the Victorian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the 2020 inquiry, the Liberal Nationals uncovered detailed information on the failures of the Andrews Labor Government’s COVID-19 response including, on the mental health impact – especially amongst youth of Labor’s lockdowns, the cost of hotel quarantine which was previously kept secret, the number of fines being withdrawn or reviewed, the total legal costs of the Coate inquiry being more than the actual inquiry, WorkCover’s ongoing investigations into Departments and Ministers and mixed and amended messages from senior Ministers and public servants over advice.

The committee concluded its inquiry in December after being setup “in recognition of the importance of providing information to the public during this unprecedented crisis.”

Since the inquiry was suspended, more fundamental mistakes have been made in the Andrews Labor Government’s response to COVID-19 including:

  • Further breaches from Victoria’s hotel quarantine system;
  • COVID testing centres experiencing multi-hour wait times over the New Year period, as government locks down state borders leaving Victorians on holiday stranded;
  • Victorian Auditor-General investigates government’s hotel quarantine contracts with security companies;
  • Unified Security prepares to sue the Victorian Government;
  • WorkSafe Victoria inquiry continuing with potential prosecution of the Premier, Ministers and government Departments;
  • Hotel quarantine operators who never hosted returned travellers paid millions;
  • Hotel quarantine workers paid full salary despite not working a single day;
  • Government apologises for incorrectly quarantining Brisbane travellers;
  • Former hotel quarantine worker complains of “hostile and intimidating behaviour”;
  • Novotel’s manager and head of infection control fired over 51 infection control breaches;
  • COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria’s (CQV) general manager of infection control stood down over COVID protocol breaches;
  • Leaked incident reports document months of hotel quarantine protocol breaches;
  • Epidemiologists and hygienists criticise flaws in hotel quarantine;
  • Five-day lockdown of Victoria in response to COVID escaping hotel quarantine (impact to businesses over Valentine’s Day period);
  • Use of nebuliser blamed by government for Victoria’s third wave with official leaked documents showing the government was wrong;
  • Exposure sites listed by DoH incorrectly or without prior notification of establishment;
  • Andrews declares Victoria’s hotel quarantine has “higher standards” than other states’;
  • Initial poor uptake of government QR code system with Parliament choosing its own stand-alone system;
  • Police Association Victoria attacks COVID fine leniency;
  • Jim’s Mowing founder to legally challenge last year’s Victorian lockdowns;
  • Beyond Blue experiences increase in calls during snap 5-day lockdown and Lockdown 4;
  • Academics find COVID lockdowns affected Victorian children more than in other states;
  • Permit system to re-enter Victoria from NSW quickly overwhelmed, plagued with technical difficulties;
  • Almost 5000 prisoners to be released early due to the pandemic;
  • Crime Statistics Agency 2020 figures show significant jumps in family violence, and drug and sex offences during lockdowns;
  • Government announces Mickleham quarantine facility, demands Federal Government money to pay for it;
  • Avalon Airport on agenda to host quarantine facility despite close relationship between owners and Premier;
  • Alarmist language and rebuke by health experts;
  • Only 13% of small businesses supported during Lockdown 4; and,
  • Failure by the State Government to follow through with its mandatory vaccination legislation, including the revelation only half of Victoria’s paramedics have had the vaccine.

Comments attributable to Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien:

“Victorians have worked hard to build a recovery, but it has all been put at risk by Labor failing to learn from its previous mistakes.

“If the Andrews Labor Government continues to force lockdowns and restrictions on Victorians, then the Victorian community should have key questions about Labor’s decisions answered.

“Victorians are suffering. Small businesses are closed, students are missing school, all the while the government is playing politics and not releasing the health advice Labor’s lockdowns are based on.

“Victorians deserve an open and transparent government. It’s clear the Andrews Labor Government is making decisions on the run and has no plan for Victorians.”

Comments attributable to Deputy Chair of Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, Richard Riordan:

“The Liberal Nationals remain committed to a Royal Commission into Victoria’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but with small businesses currently suffering and forgotten, calls to mental health services at very high levels, taxpayers still picking up the bill for staff at hotels that have no quarantine guests and problems with contact tracing, the PAEC inquiry should be reopened immediately.

“Victorians are demanding answers of their government and they are not getting them. This has to change.”

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