More inquiry hearings needed to get to the truth

Counsel Assisting the hotel quarantine inquiry yesterday recommended the Board find the Andrews Labor Government responsible for the deaths of 768 people and the COVID-19 infection of more than 18,000.

Despite hundreds of thousands of documents tendered and hundreds of hours of public hearings, the answer to some fundamental questions remain unanswered.

The inquiry cost has blown out from $3 million to $6 million, and yet we still don’t know who decided to use private security, rather than Victoria Police or the ADF.

Further, there’s now a clear conflict of evidence between the two most important players in this public policy disaster, Premier Daniel Andrews and former Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos.

In her resignation statement last Saturday, Ms Mikakos stated:

“…in light of the Premier’s statement to the Board of Inquiry and the fact that there are elements in it that I strongly disagree with, I believe that I cannot continue to serve in his Cabinet.”

This came on the back of Daniel Andrews’ last-minute change of heart at last Friday’s inquiry hearing in relation to Minister Mikakos.  The Premier said he held Mikakos accountable, just a day after stating the Minister had his full confidence.

This conflict of evidence between the two central decision makers cannot be left unresolved and untested.

Further, the production of thousands of additional pages of important documents to the inquiry by the Andrews Government last Friday after public hearings had concluded is an abuse of process and an attempt to hide the truth.

With six weeks until the hotel quarantine inquiry is due to report to the Governor, there is time for additional public hearings to recall Daniel Andrews, Jenny Mikakos and other necessary witnesses to test the material produced last Friday.

Victorians have no confidence in the Andrews Labor Government to tell the truth about its bungled hotel quarantine program that led to Victoria’s second wave. 

Comments attributable to Shadow Attorney-General, Edward O’Donohue:

“With the loss of more than 750 lives, tens of thousands of jobs and countless small businesses, the hotel quarantine inquiry must get to the bottom of the conflict of evidence between Daniel Andrews and Jenny Mikakos.

“The dumping of thousands of additional pages of documents by the Andrews Labor Government to the hotel quarantine inquiry after public hearings had concluded is sneaky, disrespectful and smacks of a government with something to hide.

“The work of the Board of inquiry cannot be finished until the truth about these central issues is resolved. Suffering Victorians deserve nothing less.”

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