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Inquiries Act 2014

Appointment of a Board of Inquiry into the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Program

Order in Council

The Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Premier under section 53(1) of the Inquiries Act 2014, appoints the Honourable Jennifer Coate AO to constitute a Board of Inquiry to inquire into, report on and make any recommendations considered appropriate in relation to the terms of reference specified in paragraphs 1 to 6 of this Order.

This Order comes into effect on the date it is published in the Government Gazette.

Background

Having regard to the global COVID-19 pandemic and the following:

a.         Previous and current Directions on Detention, issued under section 200 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, requiring returned overseas travellers to be quarantined for at least 14 days in certain hotels following their arrival in Australia as part of the Victorian government’s COVID-19 hotel quarantine program (Quarantine Program);

b.         The dynamic environment under which the Quarantine Program was established, including the concern at the time for the immediate safe return of Victorians from overseas areas impacted by the pandemic;

c.         The use of certain hotels to facilitate the Quarantine Program;

d.         The use of private sector providers, including security, transport, medical and food service providers (Private Service Providers) to administer the hotel quarantine program;

e.         Recent epidemiological material collected up to 15 July 2020 in relation to travellers quarantined as part of the Quarantine Program, potentially linking subsequent increases in the spreading of the COVID-19 virus from such quarantined travellers through to the broader Victorian community;

f.          The Government’s objective of effectively identifying, managing and containing the spread of COVID-19 from returned overseas travellers in the Quarantine Program into the community (COVID-19 Quarantine Containment); and

f.          Subsequent efforts to diagnose and treat, and to contain case numbers and the community transmission of COVID-19, as a result of the Quarantine Program.

Terms of reference

You are required to inquire into, report and make any recommendations considered appropriate in relation to the following terms of reference:

  1. The decisions and actions of Victorian government agencies, hotel operators and Private Service Providers, including their staff/contractors and any other relevant personnel involved in the Quarantine Program (each Relevant Personnel), relating to COVID-19 Quarantine Containment
  2. Communications between Victorian government agencies, hotel operators and Private Service Providers relating to COVID-19 Quarantine Containment
  3. The contractual arrangements in place across Victorian government agencies, hotel operators and Private Service Providers to the extent they relate to COVID-19 Quarantine Containment
  4. The information, guidance, training and equipment provided to Relevant Personnel for COVID-19 Quarantine Containment and whether such guidance or training was followed, and such equipment was properly used
  5. The policies, protocols and procedures applied by Relevant Personnel for COVID-19 Quarantine Containment
  6. Any other matters necessary to satisfactorily resolve the matters set out in paragraphs 1 to 5.

Reporting dates

You must report your findings and any recommendations to the Governor as soon as possible, and not later than 25 September 2020.

Conducting the inquiry

  1. You may:
    a. conduct your inquiry as you consider appropriate, subject to the requirements of procedural fairness
    b. have regard to any research relevant to your inquiry
    c. consult with and engage experts as necessary to provide relevant advice and assistance
    d. engage Australian legal practitioners to assist you as counsel.
  2. You must conduct your inquiry in accordance with this Order, the Inquiries Act 2014, and all other relevant laws.
  3. It is anticipated that in conducting your inquiry, you will:
    a. to the extent you think it appropriate, work co-operatively with, and seek not to prejudice, any ongoing response or recovery activities or investigations;
    b. adopt informal and flexible procedures to ascertain the relevant facts as directly and effectively as possible
    c. avoid unnecessary duplication
    d. avoid unnecessary cost or delay.

Budget

You may incur expenses and financial obligations to be met from the Consolidated Fund up to $3 million in conducting this Inquiry.

Dated: 2 JUL 2020

Responsible Minister: The Hon Daniel Andrews MP, Premier

Signed by C Chisholm, Clerk of the Executive Council

Reviewed 14 July 2020

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