Jenny Mikakos takes swipe at Daniel Andrews

Former health minister Jenny Mikakos has taken aim at Daniel Andrews, calling for evidence he gave at the hotel quarantine inquiry to be “critically reviewed”.

The Board of Inquiry probing the state government’s bungled hotel quarantine program published final submissions it received on Friday.

In the former health minister’s statement, Ms Mikakos said the Premier and other ministers should be cross-examined “by those who might be in the best position to contradict them”.

“No department or minister cross-examined any of the members of cabinet who gave evidence to the board,” she wrote.

“Ordinarily, the board might accept the evidence of a witness that was not challenged in cross-examination. However, a minister in a cabinet government or a secretary of a department might consider it politically disadvantageous or improper to cross-examine a cabinet minister.

“Accordingly, the board should critically review the evidence of the Premier and the ministers where that evidence is at odds with other evidence.”

Ms Mikakos quit parliament less than 24 hours after the Premier gave evidence at the hotel quarantine inquiry on September 25.

Mr Andrews declared he knew nothing about who authorised the use of private security guards at quarantine hotels, and said that Ms Mikakos was responsible.

Ms Mikakos’s claim she did not know about the use of private security in hotel quarantine had therefore been contradicted, with footage also emerging of a press conference she attended in March where the topic was covered.

In late September she told the inquiry she first became aware of the decision to use private security contractors in late May after an outbreak was reported at Rydges on Swanston outbreak.

But a video of a March 29 press conference showed the Health Minister fronting the media with Trade Minister Martin Pakula as he confirmed contractors would be used.

In Ms Mikakos’s statement she accepted accountability “for the conduct of her department”, but urged the board to consider “failures” of her department and the Department of Jobs to raise issues with her about hotel quarantine.

“If she was unaware of many critical decisions made when the hotel quarantine program was established or first being run, that is due to no fault on her part,” it was written in her statement.

“She had many responsibilities in the state’s response to the COVID-19 emergency and she worked diligently to discharge her duties to the people of Victoria. But she played no role in the critical decision to use private security in the frontline, or the terms on which they were contracted. Nor did her department. For those decisions, others must take responsibility.”

The Board of Inquiry will hand down its final report on November 6.



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