World News – AU – Sutton admits to seeing private security email


Health Director Brett Sutton said he was honest in his testimony at the official inquiry into the ill-fated Victoria Hotel Quarantine Program about his knowledge of the use of private security firms to keep returning travelers

But the man who is leading the state’s health response to the COVID-19 pandemic admitted on Saturday that he saw an email in late March mentioning private security, but the details did not come out. « Not registered » with him

Chief Medical Officer of Health Brett Sutton says he was honest in what he said at the inquestCredit: Simon Schluter

Professor Sutton told the inquiry he ignored the use of private security – which has become the core of the inquiry’s investigations – until outbreaks of COVID-19 start to emerge in May among workers in isolation hotels

The Age reported on Saturday that the Chief Health Officer actively authorized an email on March Day of the state’s hotel quarantine being put in place, advising the federal government that private security guards were going to be used to guard returning travelers

Professor Sutton said on Saturday that he saw the email and responded to it, but his private security reference had not registered with him before passing it on and that he did not ‘played no role in a health department decision to deny the investigation document

The inquiry, which was due to close its public hearings before its report’s closing date of November 6, called an « extraordinary session » on Tuesday, although it is unclear whether it intends to recall witnesses

Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said at his regular COVID-19 press briefing on Saturday that he strongly supported Professor Sutton, but state opposition said they believed the director of the Health knew about private security much sooner than he said it would, with the Victoria Liberals demanding that the investigation be reopened for full hearings

« My statement to the inquiry was true, I said it honestly, I was under oath, I take these obligations very seriously, » said the medical officer of health

« I was not aware, that’s what I told the investigation, that’s what I support »

The health official said he handed over all his emails, including the messages in question, to the Department of Health and Social Services team responsible for complying with the request for investigation documents and that he didn’t know why they didn’t do it provided to Judge Jennifer Coate’s inquiry

« I made all my emails, archives and more, from the onset of this pandemic, available to this team, » said Professor Sutton

Professor Sutton said details in the email, from the public health team to the federal government, regarding private security had not been recorded with him

« I replied to an email which I see as a response to the Commonwealth with a number of questions, » he said

« I saw they were responding to the Commonwealth and I thanked them for the response they gave, but I clearly did not indicate that anything was said about private security, otherwise I would have gone to the investigation and said I was aware of this « 

Shadow Attorney General Ed O’Donohue said the investigation should resume work and there could be plenty of other important evidence that has been withheld

« The revelation that Brett Sutton was aware of the presence of security guards deployed to the hotel’s quarantine is alarming and contradicts the evidence he provided to the investigation both in writing and orally « , did he declare

« How many documents are there in other departments that are hidden, that have not been produced, that shed light on the facts?

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Brett Sutton

World News – AU – Sutton admits to seeing private security email


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