The question was not who was responsible but why did anyone think it was the right way to go?

I watched the examination of Daniel Andrews the other day until I could bear it no longer. The major issue seemed to be who had decided to employ these private contractors rather than bring in the ADF. But that was not the right issue. The right issue is why was that decision made? And let us not kid ourselves. The decision was made by Daniel Andrews irrespective of who is being asked to take the wrap. As if he didn’t know what was going on. Is everyone an absolute idiot?

But that aside, the question of who is irrelevant. What demands explanation is why it was decided almost immediately to enforce the quarantine within Victoria using unqualified personnel who had to be trained from scratch.

It cannot be because they were a cheaper source of labour, since they cost an additional $18m whereas the ADF were being sponsored and funded by the Commonwealth.

It cannot be because these people had an expertise that would allow them to undertake these tasks with greater focus and with less potential for mistakes. We know that cannot be the case since we have heard from many of them about their lack of relevant skills and qualifications and their absence of training.

We also know it cannot be the case that they had a superior skill set since the virus – uniquely in Victoria – escaped from confinement and went onto to kill hundreds more while being contained everywhere else.

It cannot be because Daniel Andrews wanted to provide more money to his union colleagues by providing them with sinecures that would earn them a tonne of money for providing an essentially simple service, because the task wasn’t all that simple as it turned out. But the money they most surely did receive, lucky them, for taking on a job that was well beyond their capabilities.

So why were these completely unskilled union colleagues of the premier chosen to receive the millions for undertaking these tasks even though they were not even a favoured tenderer for the state and had no requisite skills?

It is obviously a very difficult question because not a single person seems to be able to come up with a plausible answer.

And for a closer look at the sequence of events, there is this: Who in the Andrews Labor Government had delegated authority to enter into a $30M non-contested contract?. There we find:

From lunchtime Friday afternoon, when Andrews specifically acknowledged the national cabinet agreement that the ADF would be engaged, until 0001 hours Sunday, 29 March – someone with the delegated authority to commit the state of Victoria to a $30M commitment approved a non-contestable, non-tendered contract with an unknown, untested and frankly dodgy company.

Sound like fertile ground for a motivated corruption commission?

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46 Responses to The question was not who was responsible but why did anyone think it was the right way to go?

  1. Old School Conservative

    Political correctness has killed over 700 Victorians.

  2. Rob MW

    Political correctness has killed over 700 Victorians.

    It was actually safer being shot at by the Viet Cong (1962 – 1972) than being a resident in Victoria in 2020.

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.

  3. Peter Smith

    What I found funny about Andrews’ session at the Inquiry is that he was never asked, never mind pressed, on what inquiries he had put in train to discover who made the decision to employ the private security guards and on what basis. He ridiculously put the onus of discovering these facts onto the Inquiry. But, if he couldn’t find out, how in the world can the Inquiry – unless they employ a gumshoe who, I imagine, could easily find out by tracing backwards from the person in government who signed the contract. I became suspicious, listening to the questions put to Andrews, or more to the point, those not put, that the whole Inquiry could be part of a snow job.

  4. William the Conjuror

    The decision was made by Daniel Andrews irrespective of who is being asked to take the wrap.

    Maybe. VicPol didn’t see it as their role to babysit people in hotel quarantine. Ashton said so back in late March. In the Cabinet meeting of 27? March the Police Minister would certainly have forcibly put that view. Ultimately Cabinet decided that way. Mikakos was left to carry the can from then on.

  5. Papachango

    I emailed the Inquiry and asked them why they didn’t grill the people involved in the procurement process, given a $30mil contract was awarded t a non-preferred, non-Victorian supplier without a tender.
    The inquiry’s terms of reference include “contractual arrangements”, “policies, processes and procedures”, and there’s three breaches of govt procurement policy right there.

    I also suggested that that going bottom up (starting with whoever signed the contract) rather than top down might help get to the bottom of who made the decision, given no minister or senior bureaucrat can remember.

    I said I’d worked in procurement for over 20 years and no-one in their right mind would award a contract worth 30 mil over 3 months to a company that has a normally annual turnover of 3.5mil, without asking serious questions about their capacity to provide the services and quality control in recruiting. Unless of course a higher up forced them to.

    Not holding my breath for a response.

  6. Hay Stockard

    It was a leftard or a colon of leftwards that thought that one up. They stuff up everything they touch. Literally. Everything.

  7. Andrews grinding on now about “staying the course”. He’s thrown a couple of bones re cessation of curfew and opening up industry, but appears to be indicating there’ll be no significant easing of social lockdown until November. It is my belief that there is a coverup of inefficiencies within the Victorian Health Department, where contact tracing competency is far less than perfect. Where does this end? I, for one, am now quite uncertain regarding our future. Our society continues to be restricted by Andrews’ “rules”, police activity and heavy fines. Now, we are also faced with his new power grabbing bill he’s trying to shove through the upper house. Is there a higher authority that can save us from this incompetent megalomaniac? He is downright dangerous and a law unto himself.

  8. min

    Steve, I did watch most on Friday and one thing that was established was that health of Victorians was not the major issue focussed on as what was done did not support what was presented in words. The government assumed the risk and acknowledged the need for the key management and mitigation of risk but then outsourced the management of risk to companies contracted to supply hotel accommodation, security and cleaning . These companies were then given contracts that assumed the company responsibility for infection training , supplying PPE without checks to see if these companies were able to use proper and correct methods . Government therefore did not believe that these issues were too important so that they could be left to private contractors and moreover did not need control and checks over risk management.
    Reading one of the contracts however, there were no protocols stated for management of infection control.

  9. EllenG

    Why? Because victoria police refused to do the job. This is confirmed by a number of items of evidence before the inquiry. The question is why did they do that and why has the premier and every minister or public servant avoided saying so? Also might ask why the police union came out so quickly to kybosh defence involvement.
    Given the behaviour of victoria police in applying powers given them we might begin to wonder what degree of hubris is operating in the state police.
    Police have a number of inquiries under way that suggest they have become unstuck from their obligations.

  10. thefrollickingmole

    From the company website.

    Supply Nation

    Through Supply Nation, Unified Security Group (Australia) Pty Ltd has successfully completed the 5-step indigenous business verification process. Since then, Unified Security has become the largest indigenous, Australian-owned security company to become a certified organisation.

    Supply Nation focuses on encouraging positive and mutual connections through indigenous heritage culture and businesses. It is currently Australia’s preferred and most trusted indigenous business platform.

    With its certification in pocket, Unified Security Group is committed to remaining indigenous and Australian-owned. It hopes to allow for better economic value, continue to provide comprehensive training and support services to its employees, and create greater opportunities for the community.

    Our current goals for the community are to:

    » Engage Indigenous Suppliers
    » Provide Community Support Programmes
    » Incorporate Indigenous Employment Pathways and Training
    » Sponsor Sporting Groups

    In extending our programmes and pathways, our organisation hopes to engage with and involve rural and remote communities alike.


    From the Jug eared tards government.

    Aboriginal Procurement Strategy
    In December 2018 DELWP launched our Aboriginal Procurement Strategy, to support a whole-of-Victorian-Government target that 1% of all contracts and purchase orders will be sourced from Aboriginal businesses by 2019-2020.

    Our strategy echoes the Victorian Government’s commitment to support business development, stimulate entrepreneurship and provide overall better financial outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians.

    Now a cynic might be accused of thinking that unified became an “Aboriginal” corporation just in order to sniff out nice litte earners like this.
    Another cynic might think The tards government thought “this is an opportunity to tick a box for “inclusiveness’.

    And a 3rd cynic might point out making decisions with Australia wide implications might be better done clear eyed and not allowing for fluff and feel good wank to get in the way.

  11. RobertS

    “victoria police refused to do the job”?
    I doubt it. Andrews could simply start sacking them from the top down until they accepted the job.

  12. That is the same Ashton who thought Fed police should do hotel quarantine ! Yeah right, if a Fed did it in VIC they would have to do it in all states. The manpower and logistics involved for Fed police would far exceed their numbers.

    The disaster all flowed from the point somebody decided VICPOL must be protected from getting involved. That led to police saying ADF should not be involved simply because they knew soldiers would not be deployed without police.

    Incredible that the head of Unified was not called to give evidence. He indicated he had the capacity to do the job when he clearly did not.

    And yet Andrews is still Premier ! He has no shame and clearly thinks VIC can’t manage without his “leadership”.

    “VicPol didn’t see it as their role to babysit people in hotel quarantine. Ashton said so back in late March”

  13. Papachango

    the Aboriginal Procurement Strategy is but one of several Govt procurement rules – they’re incredibly bureaucratic which is why I’ve never worked in government procurement.

    Three other rules are

    – must have a competitive procurment process (such as a tender, RFP or the like) if above $XXX (dunno the exact amount but definitely below 30Mil, generally anything from 50K to 250K is the threhold)

    – use local (VIC) suppliers where they exist and can provide the goods / services

    – use preferred suppliers if they are on a whole of government panel.

    Those 3 rules were broken to tick of the Aboriginal procurement strategy?

    Nah – I don’t buy it.

    Traditional you meet the Aboriginal quota by purchasing non critical items – the major corporate stationery companies all carry lines of Indigenous-made pens, pencils and notetpads for this purpose, and if you still don’t hit your 1% quota you just buy a bit of Indigenous artwork for the office, some indigenous cultural sensitivity training, or a few smoking ceremonies and you’ve hit the 1%, easy peasy…

  14. Let’s hope that Mikakos starts squealing and then for the snowball to grow. She didn’t fall on her sward, but was thrown on it by fearless leader.

  15. MPH

    It is quite a nice sleight of hand, everyone arguing over the execution of the quarantine and lockdown rather than having an inquiry into whether it was even the right thing to do. Why was that company chosen is interesting but not critical, the critical question is why did any company need to be chosen ie why do quarantine in the first place.

  16. Pauly

    Scenario 1) It actually shows that Dan and Co. never truly thought the Corona virus was as dangerous as they claimed when ramming through all the shutdowns. Because they wouldn’t expose their own to the virus if the genuinely thought it was as bad as adverised.

    Scenario 2) It is South American style feathering their own nests, never mind the cost to the community. The money gets washed and passed back to the ALP and the hell with how many Victorians die.

  17. Frollicking Mole,
    Is the difference that the new company, apart from the indigenous angle, would need more staff and therefore create more jobs ? Plus a vital point, did those new workers suddenly take out Union membership ? If yes it could represent hundreds of thousands in Union fees. Union donates at next election as per usual with a little extra this time.

    Should show up somewhere in Union memberships and accounts.

    Remember TWU NSW inflated their membership by nearly double as shown in TURC. Result a minor fine and Tony Sheldon was No 1 Senate pick ! Then there was Bill Shorten and Ceasar Melham in VIC with dodgy
    AWU numbers.

  18. H B Bear

    The answer? Like everything that happens in Victoriastan – the unions.

    $30m contract. Not put to tender. Subcontract to a few Indians. Nice little earner for someone.

  19. mem

    The particular security company that got the contract for $30 million was substantially overpaid which allows for at least 20% kickback to thank those that chose them. Now let’s see who in the crisis Cabinet has had experience in receiving “unsolicited donations”. Ah yes Mr Martin Pakula was involved in the Casey Land scandal for starters. This is one occasion when the AFP should be brought in to investigate cause it has all the hallmarks of corruption.

  20. H B Bear

    And pick up a few votes for the Liars State conference.

  21. H B Bear

    mem – it is just like the US. They don’t even bother to hide it anymore. The Lieborals and their Big Business mates aren’t much better but might be marginally more competent in government.

  22. William the Conjuror

    Gonul Serbest and the self-congratulators at Global Victoria.

    A government agency that helped set up Victoria’s bungled hotel quarantine program has boasted about its success in a bizarre in-house video leaked to the media.

    The self-congratulatory video reveals the team at Global Victoria were given about 24 hours to set up the program and treated it as a “massive inbound super trade mission”.

    The clip, which was filmed in late April about four weeks after the program was established and played to Department of Jobs, Precincts and the Regions staff on April 24, was leaked to the Herald Sun.

    The video seems to show how public servants from the agency, which manages the state’s overseas trade missions, with no experience in public health, were tasked with managing a program that led to a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections.

    Global Victoria chief executive Gonul Serbest, who opens the video, said the hotel quarantine program was an “extremely rewarding project to work on”.

    She goes on to say the “fact that we have been able to help slow the spread of coronavirus makes us feel really proud of the work we have been doing”.

    At the time the video was filmed 16 hotels were involved in the scheme and about 6000 people had gone through quarantining.

    The hotel quarantine program has since been credited with helping start a second wave of virus infections within Victoria and is the subject of a judicial inquiry.

    Surely Gonul and her cohort were required to answer questions at the Inquiry?

  23. Graeme McCaughey

    It is my understanding from what was in the public domain that Martin Pakula requested strongly that his union, United Workers Union (formally National Union of Workers) which represents amongst others the security industry be used in the hotel quarantine debacle. From there the diversity bureaucrats got involved.

  24. Speedbox

    Papachango
    #3599105, posted on September 27, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Agreed. Approval of a $30+m sole source non-tendered contract, even allowing for the emergency procurement provisions and that the company ‘might’ have been on some pre-approved Panel, would still require approval from the most senior levels of any Government. Probably Secretary level and it is inconceivable that a briefing note wasn’t sent to the Minister and quite possibly, copied to the P&C Dept Secretary. That nobody seems to know who approved it is…..absurd, because the list of those who could, is very short.

    Alternatively, this is a breach of probity of colossal proportions. But I can tell you that no middle or senior public service employee would dare sign the actual contract until he had seen the signed approval or had explicit written confirmation from the executive director. (that ED wouldn’t give the approval without specific written instructions….and so on.) The public service ‘workers’ are very good at covering their butts ‘cos they know their masters will throw them under the bus without a moment’s thought.

  25. 2dogs

    Who in the Andrews Labor Government had delegated authority to enter into a $30M non-contested contract?

    That’s a really good point. If no-one can be found who admits to making the decision, why did the public servants undertaking payment think it was even authorised?

  26. BrettW

    Papa,
    Have a relative involved in procurement in a major company. It was recently suggested to her she use an indigenous supplier for its considerable fuel requirements. The one being used for many years already is rated very highly and reliable. Flatly refused the suggestion but as you indicated can source minor non essentials from indigenous sources.

    “Traditional you meet the Aboriginal quota by purchasing non critical items – the major corporate stationery companies all carry lines of Indigenous-made pens, pencils and notetpads for this purpose, and if you still don’t hit your 1% quota you just buy a bit of Indigenous artwork for the office, some indigenous cultural sensitivity training, or a few smoking ceremonies and you’ve hit the 1%, easy peasy…”

  27. Noddy

    In the meantime, where are the ATO auditors? It would be nice to see then looking for tax evasion here instead of investigating struggling business who can be easily driven to bankruptcy let alone the mental hospital due to stress.

  28. richardf

    Why were they needed at all? Victoria has >350,000 public servants, costing taxpayers $30+b p.a. plus perks. Most had already abandoned their offices for home, on full pay of course. Hundreds, if not thousands of them would’ve enjoyed pandemic junkets during their tenure.

    Yet none of these could direct someone to a hotel room, not harass female staff, or follow basic hygiene protocols? Ironically many would also qualified on Andrew’s diversity grounds.

    Nah, obviously the only capable public employees left is the Australian Army. Also the least diverse!

  29. Tim Neilson

    Now a cynic might be accused of thinking that unified became an “Aboriginal” corporation just in order to sniff out nice litte earners like this.
    Another cynic might think The tards government thought “this is an opportunity to tick a box for “inclusiveness’.

    As I understand it that’s a normal modus operandi.
    Set up a company with sufficient indigenous shareholders and nominal directors to qualify.
    Bid and get the contract.
    Subcontract 100% of the work to the real business, for a fee of 99% of what the government is paying, with the token indigenous participants getting a kickback out of the remaining 1% for putting their names to it.

  30. Tom Appleton

    Were any of those witnesses with poor memories prompted to refer to ‘diary entries‘ or ‘meeting minutes‘?

  31. Behind Enemy Lines

    Speedbox is absolutely correct.

    It would be the easiest job in the world to find out who approved this, even if the government was resisting. Me, I’d start with the junior desk level finance officer who authorised the movement of the funds into the contractor’s account. Then I’d follow the chain of approvals up and up and up until I reached someone who either admitted to issuing the direction or else was willing to go to prison ($30m fraud) to cover for their boss.

    It just isn’t that hard.

    Put another way, DiКtator Dan knows perfectly well who authorised it. He’s lying to us about it, and every public servant who’s ever gone through the bothersome trial of getting approval to spend public funds knows he’s lying about it too.

    I’m assuming the direction came from (or through) the Minister’s office, because that’s what it would take to spend $30m this far outside the existing procurement rules and practices.

    Easy, easy meat for any integrity commission that could be bothered to do its job. The rules on fraud are an awful lot broader than most people realise. . . .

  32. Behind Enemy Lines

    p.s. to answer Steve Kates’ observation, the reason we need to know ‘who’ is because that’s likely to answer most of the ‘why’.

  33. Behind Enemy Lines

    p.p.s. sorry, blast it, I forgot to mention: where in the devil’s the file? There ought to be a file in the finance team compactus that documents the entire decision making provess. If I was in the finance team, I’d have a copy of that file in my desk at home, too. . . .

  34. Roger

    Unless of course a higher up forced them to.

    I don’t know much about Victorian politics, but even I wonder what role Martin Pakula had in all of this.

  35. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    If I was in the finance team, I’d have a copy of that file in my desk at home, too. . . .

    I’d have it under lock and key in a safe location..

  36. Googoomuck

    I watched a fair bit of Andrews’ testimony. A question was raised about the objectives of the quarantine, based on a document submitted to the inquiry. One reason specifically mentioned was the support of the tourism industry. Andrews was quick to say that it was not the most important reason. However, experience tells me that it was an important consideration. There were only three dot points. When you are promoting a course of action you use the most important reasons in your argument. They would not have bothered putting it in if it was a peripheral concern. Hotel quarantine was chosen to give taxpayer support to the industry. Home quarantine has its issues but I doubt it would have killed 700 elderly people.

  37. thefrollickingmole

    BrettW
    #3599164, posted on September 27, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Is Plus a vital point, did those new workers suddenly take out Union membership ? If yes it could represent hundreds of thousands in Union fees. Union donates at next election as per usual with a little extra this time.

    Should show up somewhere in Union memberships and accounts.

    Thats pretty well what i was looking for, a workplace agreement along the lines of “XX company agrees to pay the union dues for our employees’..
    ACM did that in a deal with what was Ozs worst union, the LMHU (now united voice), basically as long as the company paid the dues the workers could die in a fire as far as they were concerned.

  38. min

    Eccles has been thrown under the bus as Andrews denies that the correspondence from Feds was not seen by him, ie Eccles had nor forwarded emails etc on to him . pathological liar !

  39. Roger Macrury

    Steve,

    I’m afraid you’ve completely missed the point. Dan is so modern and has transitioned to fully autonomous policy. Bit like a Tesla really, decides where and when to go and how to get there. Humans aren’t needed. They sit in the back and just go along for the ride. It’s a good gig if you can get it.

    Trouble is, autonomous policy is still at the toddler stage and everybody else has to clean up the shit that’s left behind.

  40. John Comnenus

    Daniel Andrews identifies as honest, therefore he is.

  41. amortiser

    Where is the Victorian Auditor General in all of this? As soon as this hit the press, he should have been all over it. Contract compliance is bread and butter stuff for the A-G. He has the resources and the expertise and the investigative power under his enabling legislation to find out how $30 million of taxpayers money was spent.

    He wouldn’t have had to wait for his annual report to show his findings. I recall the Commonwealth Auditor General conducted a special investigation into the Department of Aboriginal Affairs at the time of the Whitlam government and issued the report to parliament on completion. The Auditor General is not constrained by terms of reference imposed by the government, he has a free hand and is “independent”.

    So where is he?

  42. JohnJJJ

    We are looking the wrong way. I can almost guarantee even the lowest public servant in the Department of Premier and Cabinet will know exactly what happened, who made the decisions and why. Just make it worth their while.

  43. Rafiki

    Why is it that questions about the detail of how the contracting process worked not pursued in the inquiry? Ms Elyard, the counsel assisting, is on the face of it responsible for the conduct of the inquiry. She might provide some answers when she makes her submissions.

  44. The BigBlueCat

    Peter Smith
    #3599088, posted on September 27, 2020 at 1:31 pm
    What I found funny about Andrews’ session at the Inquiry is that he was never asked, never mind pressed, on what inquiries he had put in train to discover who made the decision to employ the private security guards and on what basis. He ridiculously put the onus of discovering these facts onto the Inquiry. But, if he couldn’t find out, how in the world can the Inquiry – unless they employ a gumshoe who, I imagine, could easily find out by tracing backwards from the person in government who signed the contract. I became suspicious, listening to the questions put to Andrews, or more to the point, those not put, that the whole Inquiry could be part of a snow job.

    Time will tell if it has been a sham inquiry. Of course, going to the one who signed the contract would be a logical thing to do – they would need to say who gave them authority. But it is clear that the Andrews government is either dishonest and/or incompetent. This whole debacle will haunt them to the next election and beyond. I can see the ads now “Guilty Party” … reminiscent of Cain/Kirner and Bracks and their shifty eyes. The ALP leopard has not changed its spots at all.

  45. The BigBlueCat

    amortiser
    #3599818, posted on September 28, 2020 at 7:53 am
    Where is the Victorian Auditor General in all of this? As soon as this hit the press, he should have been all over it. Contract compliance is bread and butter stuff for the A-G. He has the resources and the expertise and the investigative power under his enabling legislation to find out how $30 million of taxpayers money was spent.

    He wouldn’t have had to wait for his annual report to show his findings. I recall the Commonwealth Auditor General conducted a special investigation into the Department of Aboriginal Affairs at the time of the Whitlam government and issued the report to parliament on completion. The Auditor General is not constrained by terms of reference imposed by the government, he has a free hand and is “independent”.

    So where is he?

    Probably working from home. But I agree, the Auditor General needs to be all over this, irrespective of the inquiry set up by Andrews. The Liberal Party needs to have a Royal Commission into COVID-19 as part of their election platform, with any lies or obstructions by the Andrews government properly dealt with.

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