03 Sep Troops did the lot at hotels, everywhere but Victoria that is
Tom Minear – The Herald Sun – Thursday 03 September
The Defence Force sent up to 640 soldiers to support the hotel quarantine system in three states, despite Daniel Andrews claiming such assistance was not offered to Victoria.
The Herald Sun can reveal 300 ADF personnel were deployed in New South Wales, 270 in Queensland and 70 in Western Australia.
Working with local authorities, their responsibilities including providing security at hotels used to quarantine overseas arrivals, as well as logistical tasks at both hotels and airports.
The Premier has been embroiled in a war of words with the federal government and the Defence Force after he told a state parliamentary committee last month he did “not believe ADF support was on offer”.
Victoria instead used private security guards in the quarantine hotels, with health protocol breaches sparking the state’s catastrophic second wave.
Mr Andrews claimed ADF support was “provided in very limited circumstances in New South Wales, not to provide security as such but to provide transportation from the airport to hotels”.
“I think it is fundamentally incorrect to assert that there were hundreds of ADF staff on offer and somehow someone said no,” he said.
Responding to questions raised in a federal inquiry by Victorian senator James Paterson, the Defence Force outlined details of its involvement in hotel quarantine, after their resources were offered by Scott Morrison.
In New South Wales, the ADF helped with flight arrivals at airports, mobile hotel reception teams, hotel repatriation tasks, static security, logistical tasks such as delivering meals and laundry, and providing assistance to police.
Defence members undertook similar tasks in Queensland, and also supported Queensland Health officials to conduct in-room COVID-19 testing.
In Western Australia, they assisted with flight arrivals, handled reception at hotels, supported logistics for meals and laundry, and provided small teams for “personnel/staff monitoring” at hotels.
Senator Paterson said it contradicted Mr Andrews’ claim about the ADF’s role in NSW.
“Hundreds of soldiers were available if required,” he said.
“The decision to not take up that offer was entirely the responsibility of the Andrews government and it proved a fatal one for hundreds of Victorians.”
But a state government spokeswoman reaffirmed Mr Andrews’ statement, backed by Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp, that there was “no formal offer of ADF support for hotel quarantine in Victoria”.
“Victoria is grateful for the ADF’s assistance in the fight against coronavirus — supporting our suburban testing blitz, doorknocking with authorised officers to ensure positive cases have been self-isolating and standing side-by-side with police doing road checks,” the spokeswoman said.