Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has admitted to the inquiry into Melbourne’s hotel quarantine system that he did not know the program was going ahead prior to its announcement.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the program at a press conference on March 27, which Mr Sutton said he was not aware of until the announcement was made.
The chief health officer was also questioned on whether the quarantine system would have been more effective it the government had taken a recommendation made in 2011 following the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
A prominent feature of the inquiry so far from those who assist set up the program was that it was done in a hasty and confusing manner.
One of the recommendations from the 2011 report was to implement a more unified approach to the quarantine process across the states and the Commonwealth.
In response to the report, Mr Sutton said he “absolutely took [the] point that consideration of this recommendation and a pre-existing ready to stand up program would have been of greater existence compared to setting up a program de novo”.
He also revealed to the inquiry he, at the time, had no view on using private security guards to secure the hotel quarantine and was not actually aware they were being employed until the outbreaks at the Stanford and Rydges hotels were reported.
Mr Sutton said in hindsight he could appreciate the difficulties of using a casual work force.
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