Australia

Victoria Premier Division Secretary Chris Eccles Resigns After Hotel Quarantine Investigation Analyzes Phone Records

Victoria’s top civil servant resigned after a phone record revealed that he had spoken to the police chief as the Victorian hotel quarantine program was set up in a hurry.

Chris Eccles, the prime minister and cabinet secretary, resigned on Monday after a phone record was handed over to a hotel quarantine investigation over the weekend.

In a statement, Mr. Eccles acknowledged a record show in which private security guards spoke with former Victorian Police Commissioner Graham Ashton at 1:17 pm on March 27, when it was decided to quarantine the hotel.

“Telephone records do not indicate that I, or anyone else in the DPC, has decided to use private security in the hotel’s quarantine program,” Eccles said.

“I’m absolutely confident I didn’t tell Mr Ashton about the decision to use private security because I was unaware that such a decision was made, and I certainly made such a decision. I didn’t do it myself. “

He had previously answered a question that he couldn’t remember talking to Mr Ashton at the time.

A two-minute call between the two men occurred in an important 6-minute time frame. There, according to a message to Mr. Ashton’s inquiry, it was decided to use security guards.

“Mate. Question. Why doesn’t AFP protect the people in the hotel ??” Ashton wrote to Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reese Kershaw at 1:12 pm on March 27.

At 1:16 pm, Ashton also sent a message to Eccles: “Chris I have been contacted by Canberra about a plan to forcibly quarantine foreign arrivals from tomorrow. I have been guarded by police for 14 days. Do you know anything about this ?? Graham “.

According to phone records, Eccles called Ashton a minute after receiving the message.

Six minutes later, at 1:22 pm, Ashton sent another message to Kershaw. “Mate. My advice (sic) is that ADF transfers passengers and private security is used.”

“Okay, that’s new,” Kershaw replied.

“I think it’s a deal set up by our DPC. I think NSW will be another deal,” Ashton said.

The decision to use private security guards in the program is believed to be the cause of the second catastrophic wave in the state of coronavirus, which killed hundreds of people and led to the country’s toughest blockade.

Eckles, who had previously played similar roles in New South Wales and South Australia under Labor and Liberal-led governments, said it would be a “distraction” if he stayed in his position. ..

“Ultimately, the board will come to a conclusion on the previous issue,” he said.

“But in a situation of increasing attention to this issue, we don’t want to focus on what would undermine the extraordinary work of the public sector as we continue to address the unprecedented challenges of 2020.”

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos resigned last month because of her division’s role in the hotel’s quarantine program.

In her response to the submission of the closing of the investigation, Mikakos said it was “impossible” to suggest that no one had decided to use private security guards in the program.

The investigation, led by retired judge Jennifer Court, will submit its final report on November 6.

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Victoria Premier Division Secretary Chris Eccles Resigns After Hotel Quarantine Investigation Analyzes Phone Records

Source link Victoria Premier Division Secretary Chris Eccles Resigns After Hotel Quarantine Investigation Analyzes Phone Records

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