Oct 12, 2020
Dan Andrews Press Conference Transcript After Secretary Resigns Amid Quarantine Scandal October 12
Daniel Andrews held a press conference after top Victorian government secretary & Andrews’ right hand man Chris Eccles resigned over the COVID-19 hotel quarantine scandal. Read the press conference transcript here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Daniel Andrews: (00:00)
…cases since my update yesterday. Currently 10 of those cases are provisionally linked to family clusters or known cases that are currently being actively managed. Contact tracing. Investigative work is ongoing and we will provide further updates in the chief health officers released later today.
Daniel Andrews: (00:22)
There are 21 Victorians in hospital, and none of those are receiving intensive care. The total of 2,850, 794 test results have been received since the beginning of the year, with 10,108 received since yesterday. Can I thank each of those people for coming forward and getting tested? That is a strong weekend number. Obviously we’ll get the balance of the weekend tomorrow, but that is a very strong number compared to recent trends. So we do thank them. And again, we send that very clear message to anyone who’s got symptoms, however mild, to please come forward and get tested. Do not delay. Please come forward and get tested as soon as possible.
Daniel Andrews: (01:05)
The rolling average to 11 October in Metro Melbourne is 9.9 cases. And in regional Victoria, it is just 0.4 cases. Mystery cases to the 9th of October, there are 11. They are all in Metro Melbourne.
Daniel Andrews: (01:23)
In terms of the Metro regional split, there are just five active cases in regional Victoria. So we, again thank regional Victorians for their hard work, for their commitment, for the work that’s being done business by business, family by family to follow those rules. That’s got the numbers low and it’s keeping them low. And that’ll make some further steps possible once we get to the end of the week.
Daniel Andrews: (01:49)
Just quickly before I turn to another matter, in terms of the 15 cases in Metropolitan Melbourne, that’s obviously higher than we would like. The trend in recent days, given some particular outbreaks, Frankston, Chadstone, those that have become very well known and understood by Victorians, particularly those in Melbourne, are a challenge, but they’re being very well-managed. They’re being pulled up as quickly as they can be with some new and innovative ways of dealing with them. And I want to thank the entire public health team for the work that they’re doing to close out those cases and to stop those infections going even more broadly.
Daniel Andrews: (02:26)
Despite these numbers provided, we continue to see a trend where there are not a huge number of additional mystery cases. Whilst we continue to see this trend flow through the rest of this week, then there will be some further easing that we can announce on Sunday. We’ll be broadly in that social space rather than economic easing, but we may be able to do more on that front in regional Victoria. Today’s not the day for those announcements. That’ll indeed be for Sunday after many hours of pouring over data. But also the narrative that sits behind those cases with the public health team and with colleagues.
Daniel Andrews: (03:03)
Onto another matter. As you are well aware, the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet has today tended his resignation from that position effective immediately. It has become clear early evening yesterday, that a thorough examination of his telephone records indicated that he had in fact, spoken with Graham Ashton, the then Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police on that basis, it was appropriate that he tended his resignation. He’s done that. He’s issued a statement. So have I. I would direct you to those.
Daniel Andrews: (03:33)
I would simply say two further things. Firstly, Deputy Secretary Jeremy Moore has been appointed as the acting Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. He’s been very actively involved in the coronavirus response over at the Department of Health and Human Services in recent times. I thank him for that work and I’m very confident that he will do that job well.
Daniel Andrews: (03:54)
Secondly, I would just say that despite what is a very significant development, Mr. Eccles was after all, the head of the Victorian public service. No Victorian should be in any doubt that me and my team, all of us remain absolutely focused on you and getting you the freedoms that you want, and that you’re fundamentally entitled to, by continuing to drive these case numbers down, so that we can take safe and steady steps to open up and find a COVID-normal and be able to lock that normal in. That remains our focus. Nothing else, nothing else is more important than that. And that’s why we will continue to do the hard work to track and trace, to encourage people to test and to support not just all of those impacted by this virus right now, but to support them in the medium and the long-term. And the forthcoming state budget will be a very important opportunity. In fact, there’s a very important obligation on all of us to make sure that that is an unprecedented investment. And be in no doubt, it will be.
Daniel Andrews: (04:58)
The deputy premier is here with me as well in his capacity as minister for education. And he’ll be only too happy to take any questions. Today does mark the return of school for our primary school students, the year sevens, and our senior students, VCV [Cal 00:05:13] students, and those in year 10, studying those senior classes, as well as specialist schools across the state. So I’m sure if anyone has any issues around that, then he’ll be more than happy to answer those questions.
Daniel Andrews: (05:27)
That’s probably all I needed to go through in terms of the numbers of the day. I’m happy to take any questions you have.
Speaker 1: (05:32)
You said “appropriately he resigned.” What do you mean by that?
Daniel Andrews: (05:36)
Well, he had indicated to the inquiry that he’d not received a call. It’s clear that he had, and I believe that he’s made the right choice. That resignation was offered almost… Well, it was in fact, immediately. He’s worked out a statement and that’s been formalized this morning.
Speaker 1: (05:54)
Did he relate any details of that call to you?
Daniel Andrews: (05:57)
No. I had not spoken to him last night. I spoke to him this morning on my way in here, after he had issued his statement, to thank him for his service, and can I say, to express some sadness that his 35 years in public life, his 35 years of public service had ended this way. It wasn’t a very long conversation. We’ll have another conversation at some point.
Speaker 2: (06:14)
And on March 27, did he [inaudible 00:06:16] .
Daniel Andrews: (06:16)
No, absolutely not.
Speaker 3: (06:17)
So how did you find out that Chris Eccles was going.
Daniel Andrews: (06:21)
Mr. Eccles rang my chief of staff in the afternoon. We had a cabinet committee meeting for an hour and a half, and hour and 45 minutes just before, about 6:00, 6:30 last night. She rang me then to tell me that what he had discovered and what his intentions were.
Speaker 3: (06:36)
So did you believe that he should go? Was that your instruction?
Daniel Andrews: (06:40)
No, it wasn’t a matter of me having to instruct him. He’d made a decision that his position was not tenable. So on that basis, I didn’t need to have a conversation with him to urge him to do something that he’d already decided to do. I didn’t think it was unreasonable though, that he might wait until the morning to make that announcement. He needed to made it to prepare a statement and work through those issues.
Speaker 4: (06:58)
Just for clarity, was it not tenable because he remembered that phone call incorrectly? Is that the precise thing that you think or that he thinks he did wrong?
Daniel Andrews: (07:07)
Well, I would direct you to his statement. He’s been pretty clear about his version of events, his view, the status of his testimony at the board of inquiry. But there’s a central factor that can’t be ignored, and that is that a phone call was made. What was discussed, I don’t know. How important or otherwise that was, I don’t know. The board of inquiry will no doubt look at all those matters. They are in fact, looking at all of those matters in the broadest possible context, and they’ll provide us with a report soon.
Speaker 4: (07:40)
And does he remember anything about that phone call? Did he mention that to you?
Daniel Andrews: (07:41)
As I said, I did not have a conversation with him this morning on the substance of those matters. Again, what’s more, if I can just make the point, I’ve not had conversations with him about the substance of those matters at any point, certainly since we were both called to the inquiry. I don’t think it’s appropriate that witnesses should be talking to each other in their capacity as witnesses. So I was shocked when I was informed last night that this call had been made and that a detailed examination of his records had shown that. To his credit, he hadn’t taken any time. He had conveyed that knowledge, that important fact, and his decision to resign to my chief of staff. And as I said, I didn’t speak with him last night. But I spoke with him this morning on the way in here.
Before the inquiry was set up, did you ask him about what he knew, what, when, where, how and why about the security guards?
Daniel Andrews: (08:34)
Well, John, he was in the meeting the morning that we received the genomic sequencing report from the chief health officer. And there were many questions asked. And I couldn’t get answers to those questions. And that’s exactly why I charged him with setting up the board of inquiry under the Inquiry’s Act. If I had have had answers, then at that point, it would have been much more than just this matter. It would have been the whole… Again, I don’t think this will be the only matter that the board goes to. They’ll talk about lots of things. If I’d had all of those answers then, I wouldn’t have needed to set up the board, which ultimately that arm’s length process is very important to me. It’s very important to every single Victorian.
Daniel Andrews: (09:13)
And we will get a report soon. I don’t know what’s going to be in that report, but what I can tell you and all Victorians is that it will be made public the day that it’s handed to me and we will respond maybe not right away, but we’ll respond the day after, the day after that. And I won’t hesitate to take the action that’s required based on recommendations and findings to make sure that these sorts of areas can never happen again, regardless of the context, whether it be a pandemic or any other broader issues that the board may go to.
This is the second major resignation in a month from your government. How confident can Victorians be that your government and the department’s ability to ease them out of some of these harsh restrictions and these freedoms that they are wanting back?
Daniel Andrews: (09:55)
Well, people across Victoria can be clear that we are focused, and they can be confident that we are focused on doing what has to be done to drive those numbers down further and to have a proportionate public health response, one that can help us to find a COVID normal and then lock that in. That’s what people can be absolutely and entirely confident of because that’s what we are all doing, which is why I made the point off the top that whilst this is a significant development today, the public service is bigger than one person. This government is working as hard as we possibly can with a massive team of people to see this strategy an absolute success. And we’ll have more to say to that end on Sunday.
Daniel Andrews: (10:40)
That is, I know, frustratingly not something I can announce today. We do need to see each day’s data this week, and to know and understand as much as we can about each and every one of those cases, assuming that they will, of course be more cases this week.
Speaker 5: (10:53)
Premier, can I go to your evidence to the inquiry that you gave on Friday please?
Daniel Andrews: (10:57)
Speaker 5: (10:58)
In your evidence to the inquiry, you were asked specifically about a text message from your private office to Mr. Tim Ada, a Dep. Sec in Premiers Department at 1:19. And you said that text message from your private office to your department references security. You said that those decisions would not have been made yet, they were not finalized. And I quote you, “Not at this time anyway, [inaudible 00:00:11:24].”
Speaker 5: (11:26)
That’s at 1:19, but obviously today upon his resignation, Mr. Eccles clearly made a call to Graham Ashton at 1:17. So two minutes earlier. That is the only person, according to Mr. Ashton’s evidence, that he had contact within that six minute period. So clearly Graham Ashton was told by Mr. Eccles something of substance for Mr. Ashton to then be telling Reece Kershaw and the Australian Federal Police, and he did this in a following text message at 1:22, that we will not be involved in hotel security. And Reece Kershaw says, “Well, that’s new.” And he says, “Yes, this is a deal done with our DPC.” That would seem that your evidence to the inquiry, in relation to your staff’s knowledge at 1:19, and the text message from your private office, is at odds with a 1:17 call from your now former Head of Premiers to the police chief.
Daniel Andrews: (12:30)
Well, I don’t draw the same conclusion that you’ve drawn. The text message from one of my staff was about the security, not who would provide security. And it was a question. To me, the fact that a question had to be asked, I would’ve thought, put beyond doubt that the answer was not known. I then went out and did a media conference where yes, I did mention a number of different classes of person if you like, whether it be police, private security or a health team. And in the very next breath in that press conference, I indicated that those matters had not been settled. And I couldn’t make announcements, but I would the following day make those announcements. And I did.
Daniel Andrews: (13:11)
And I think if you have a look at the evidence that’s been led to the inquiry about other meetings, other processes that had nothing to do with my private office or my department for that matter, meetings, for instance, down at the State Control Center. I’m not drawing conclusions or offering theories. That’s not my job, and it’s not appropriate given that there’s a process ongoing. But my statements have been clear, accurate, consistent.
Speaker 5: (13:36)
Well, Premier, can I just go then back to the National Cabinet meeting? The National Cabinet meeting concluded at 1:11 PM, and I have that clarified from a number of official sources. But at 12 noon, according to Mr. Eccles’ own evidence in the code inquiry, he left the room and spoke to, as we know, Simon Phemister, the Secretary of the Job’s Department, who then had a series of meetings, including meetings at 12:35. They’d been letting evidence that discussed by Victoria police and quite in detail, private security that’s in evidence. When Mr. Eccles left the cabinet room, he said he only spoke to Mr. Phemister to action the standing up of hotel rooms and the provision of transport. When asked in evidence, Mr. Eccles said he did not discuss private security. However, within 20 minutes, that was part of meetings at which Mr. Phemister was chairing while you were still inside National Cabinet, which didn’t break till after 1:00.
Speaker 5: (14:41)
But interestingly, when you carefully read through the evidence of Mr. Eccles, on route to a place where he could call Mr. Phemister, he walked through the ante room, spoke to your chief of staff, and briefed her in detail, according to Mr. Eccles evidence, about the decision of National Cabinet, which at that stage was not known to anyone inside of the Victorian public service, that it would require immediate hotel quarantine of incoming passengers.
Speaker 5: (15:11)
So the only two people, while National Cabinet was underway, between 12:00 and 1:15, when it broke, that knew about this decision, was Mr. Eccles when he left, who told your chief of staff, who then told Mr. Phemister, that Eccles then told Mr. Phemister. Now, Mr. Phemister has been on the record. He’s given a statement. He’s provided evidence. So has Mr. Ashton. So has your good self. But your chief of staff has not given evidence in any way, shape or form. I understand phone records will come, but there is no evidence led by her into the inquiry, and no statement as to what she knew and whether she had subsequent discussions in relation to private security.
Daniel Andrews: (15:55)
And your question is?
Speaker 5: (15:57)
Did your chief of staff, while you were in National Cabinet and your secretary had departed at 12 noon, in that period of time, did your chief of staff have conversations with anyone in relation to private security before the National Cabinet decision was known publicly?
Daniel Andrews: (16:19)
Well, I’m not quite sure. You’ve just put it to me that she didn’t know until after the meeting broke.
Speaker 5: (16:27)
No, I’m not putting that to you. She was told-
Daniel Andrews: (16:28)
Well, you did.
Speaker 5: (16:28)
No, excuse me, Premier. She was told-
Daniel Andrews: (16:30)
You did put that to me, but regardless, I can still answer the question without-
Speaker 5: (16:33)
She was told by Mr. Eccles, and he says that in his evidence, when you left the room at 12.
Daniel Andrews: (16:38)
Yep. I’m still unclear. You’re free to make long statements, but if you’ve got a question, please ask me the question so I can answer it. I want to be as accurate as I can be.
Speaker 5: (16:48)
Well, when Mr. Eccles left the room-
Daniel Andrews: (16:50)
These sort of lengthy silences at the end of it, I need to know what I’m being asked. And then I’m more than happy to try and answer you.
Speaker 5: (16:55)
When Mr. Eccles left the room at 12 o’clock, he told your chief of staff that there was a decision in relation to National Cabinet to stand up hotel quarantine of incoming passengers. He then called Mr. Phemister and told Mr. Phemister to look at hotel rooms and transport only. And that’s in the evidence of Phemister, and that’s in the evidence of Mr. Eccles. The one person’s evidence who we don’t have as your chief of staff. But somewhere in that period of time between then and this call by Mr. Eccles at 1:17 to Mr. Ashton, that gave him comfort that private security would be used, sometime between 12:00 and 1:17, your chief of staff was informed of the National Cabinet’s decision and work was underway in the Victorian public service, and I would contend perhaps even your private office to look at private security arrangements.
Daniel Andrews: (17:57)
Well, if that’s your question, matters as to who would perform functions within the hotel quarantine program are operational decisions. They are not decisions that are made by me nor any member of my private office staff. So that’s the first answer. Beyond that, as to who is called and not called, as to who is required or asked to provide information or details to the Board of Inquiry, that’s entirely a matter for the board. All the evidence that’s been led has come from requests that the board has made. All the 300,000 pages of documents, again, they’ve come from requests. The most recent requests of the board were phone records. They will be provided in full accordance with the terms of the request made. But on the broader issue or any contention that anybody in my private office would be making operational decisions like that, that’s just simply not right.
Premier, just the number people. People are pretty upset with the numbers.
Daniel Andrews: (19:03)
Yeah, look, no one’s thrilled to see more cases rather than less, Ref, but what this-
Daniel Andrews: (19:09)
I guess, some people might feel that you haven’t been as honest as you could be yours. Yeah, I’ll use the word honest. Haven’t been as honest as you could be about why… We can put up with 10, because it looks like we’ve got 10, both mystery cases and around an average. It looks like you’re going to let us have a whole lot of personal freedoms, but not business freedoms next weekend. I guess there’s a fair bit of commentary around today and a fair few people saying, “Why doesn’t he just say, ‘Yeah, we can work with 10, we can live with 10’.”
Daniel Andrews: (19:44)
Well, I would be disappointed to think that people felt that way. I’ve tried to be nothing but frank and as clear as I can be. And sometimes that means I finish up foreshadowing things and posing questions that I can’t answer all of them on the day that I do it. And I made a conscious choice the other day. When we wake up to headlines that people’s hearts have been broken and all these sorts of things, I thought it was appropriate to say, look, don’t be in that place. Instead, know and understand that we are working towards some easing on Sunday.
Daniel Andrews: (20:17)
Now, that then invited not a criticism, but that then invited a whole range of questions, and that’s your job to say, “Well, what does that look like?” And I had to be equally clear to say, “I can’t answer those questions now.” I could speculate, but then I don’t know that that’s particularly healthy.
Daniel Andrews: (20:32)
And the other thing too, Ref, is the decisions haven’t been made and they won’t be made till well into probably the evening of Saturday night. So on the issue of zero, five, 10, all of those things, look, I’ve always tried to be clear with people, to say we have targets and we have modeling based on those targets. The best public health advice says to us that those targets can be achieved. The question will become over what period. And if it is going to take an unacceptably… The next question will be how long is that? But an unacceptably long period of time to get to those numbers. I’ve always tried to be clear that it might-
So, it may have been [crosstalk 00:21:15].
Daniel Andrews: (21:14)
Let me just finish and then I’m happy to take a followup, as many as you want.
Daniel Andrews: (21:18)
It may get to a point where all of our advice is this is as good as it’s going to get. And therefore we just have to brace ourselves for a fight and opening up, and therefore a fight against this virus in that set of circumstances. That will be harder than if we hadn’t been able to get it to five or zero. I’ve tried to be pretty clear about that. Maybe I’ve not expressed it as clearly as that before, but we’ve always said we’ll look at common sense. Sorry, we’ll always have common sense when we look at these numbers, and we’ll always look to try and understand the story that sits behind them.
Maybe the more concrete question is on Sunday, or maybe in two weeks time, would you reissue that roadmap, especially around the daily average and the number of mystery cases? Are you reconsidering where you set those?
Daniel Andrews: (22:08)
I think yes we are, because they’re a series of targets that are based on a thousand plus assumptions. And as I’ve said many, many times, data always trumps the assumptions that you fit into any model, even if it’s a really robust model, and it’s been run by numerous supercomputers and lots of different experts and multiple universities. And then we’ve had a number of medical research institutes come on board as we’ve continued to evolve that.
Daniel Andrews: (22:41)
It may be at a point where we have to call it and we have to say, look, this is as good as it’s going to get. That means there is some greater risk. That means the task of keeping this thing suppressed is going to be harder. But that’s where we find ourselves. And that’s the choice that we have to make, because to achieve a lower number… And again, assumptions and actuals, the latter is what really matters. To achieve that lower number might mean we were locked down for too long. And even then there might be… And that that lock down and its consequences might not be proportionate. So an increase in the task. But the burden might be still greater. So on that basis, I’m going to run faster. We’ve got to do more, we’ve got to chase harder even. And there’ll be some inherent risk in that. That’s why time is so important. Even a day or two in this can make a real difference because you do get a more complete picture every day.
So, just on maybe we have to live with higher numbers than set out in the roadmap-
Daniel Andrews: (23:44)
Oh, sorry, your question was will we redo the roadmap. The answer is yes. I think once we get to Sunday, or I’ve pretty clearly foreshadowed that there’s going-
[crosstalk 00:23:52] five.
Daniel Andrews: (23:52)
Well, a couple of points. I think we might reconsider some of the numbers because again, we got more and more actuals. But the other thing that we by definition, will have to reconsider is-
Daniel Andrews: (24:03)
thing that we, by definition, will have to reconsider is the different steps. Because if there’s a, for one of a better term, and I’m sure we probably come up with one that’s a bit more hopeful than this, but a three minus for Melbourne, and a three plus for regional Victoria. If that’s where Sunday lands, or maybe a mixture of Sunday and then the following Sunday, for regional Victoria, for instance.
Daniel Andrews: (24:22)
And again, we’re getting into this territory where I’m speculating and I can’t necessarily answer all the questions, but I’m trying to be, give people a sense of where our thinking’s at. That means the roadmap will have to be redrawn because you’ve essentially broken up different stages. And the reason we’ve done that is that we’ve made really good progress, and none of us should move away from the fact that we, what six and a half, seven weeks ago? We had 725 cases. And it’s not 25 cases now, it’s 15 today. We’ve achieved an awful lot. It’s that stubborn [tail 00:00:53], those last few cases. One outbreak, two outbreaks, and all of the sudden you’re rolling average becomes… It just gets very tough. Very, very tough for us to get to where we had hoped to be.
Speaker 6: (25:04)
Sure. Can you give us-
Speaker 7: (25:06)
Just, sorry. Can I just ask one more [inaudible 00:25:08]?
Daniel Andrews: (25:07)
Speaker 7: (25:09)
Just in terms of adjusting to maybe higher numbers. Over the weekend, it took a bit of time it seemed for the settings at Box Hill to get to everyone on the ward. It started being 30 minutes, if you’ve been exposed for 30 minutes. Then it finally got to everyone who’d been exposed. It’s a bit similar to the comparison that is made with New South Wales. If someone gets on a bus in New South Wales, they say to everyone who’s been on that bus, “Isolate for 14 days.” We don’t say that yet. Why not? And we’ve got a 25,000 testing capacity it seems.
Daniel Andrews: (25:45)
Probably closer to 30, really.
Speaker 7: (25:45)
Yeah. So why not just-
Daniel Andrews: (25:47)
Yeah, that’s a good question.
Speaker 7: (25:48)
Whenever there’s a positive case-
Daniel Andrews: (25:52)
That’s a very good question.
Speaker 7: (25:52)
Daniel Andrews: (25:52)
That’s a very good question.
Speaker 7: (25:52)
And ask everyone to isolate 14 days.
Daniel Andrews: (25:52)
It is a very good question. And I’ll ask the question and I’ll wait to get an answer from the Chief Health Officer and the public health team. And the reason I’ve asked the question is not just because of that particular setting. And hospitals can be a good deal more complex than they might seem. Given people working in different settings. And they might appear to be close contacts, but in fact, they aren’t. They’re also doing very critical work. And furloughing people does come at a price, and all of those things. So you’ve always got to make a risk judgment. We don’t shut the whole hospital down.
Daniel Andrews: (26:20)
But I want that answer and I’m confident I’ll get it. And I think Brett committed to that yesterday. In terms of the other reason why I think it’s important that we get that answer and have some absolute clarity about this is that that’s not the approach. The approach you’re advocating is exactly what’s been done when it comes to elements of the Chadstone outbreak and then the links up to Kilmore. We’re cases isolating, close contacts. So 15 minutes face-to-face, two hours in the same room. They’ve all been isolating. And then their contacts-
Speaker 7: (26:49)
They’re contaminated as well because-
Daniel Andrews: (26:50)
From an abundance of caution, they’ve been isolating as well.
Speaker 7: (26:53)
Not all the customers at the butcher shop were told, test and isolate.
Daniel Andrews: (26:55)
Yeah, yeah. No. Elements, I said. Elements. Not necessarily all of them. But that’s where I think we’ve got, there is a series of decisions, and you’ve always got to make decisions based on what you know about the outbreak. And I was briefed last week with some very detailed charts about all the different connections and linkages, and some of them were not as obvious as you might think. I think Kilmore’s been handled very well. I think Chadstone’s been handled very well. I think the household outbreaks in Frankston with some linkages into Chadstone have been handled very well. I have no advice to say Box Hill hasn’t been, but that is that it is a question. And I would like the answer to that. And I think that the public health team are looking at that very, very closely.
Daniel Andrews: (27:36)
The margin for error, obviously, as we move into this next phase is very, very low. And if it is the case, and I’m not announcing this today. I’m just trying to share my thinking. If that lower number is just going to be too hard to get to, then that’ll mean the task of keeping those numbers low will be even greater. Was already pretty big, but it will be even greater. And therefore, the margin for error will be lower again still. So that’s where testing capacity becomes incredibly important. The notion of testing, many more people. The notion of that real abundance of caution. It’s already there, but take it even to another level. I think all of that’s going to be very, very important.
Premier, it’s very clear when you move around Melbourne widely enough, that compliance to mask was incredibly low weekend in that 20 to 30, say 20 to 35 age group. I would estimate 10% in different places. Are you concerned that this lockdown fatigue that anecdotally appears to be setting in, is looming as a potentially big issue for Victoria?
Daniel Andrews: (28:49)
Well, I know that Premier of New South Wales today has made some similar comments in relation to mask wearing, and they’ve got a very different set of rules. And I was asked a similar question a couple of days ago, John, and I’ll give you the same answer. I’m not for a moment denying that people are getting increasingly tired of these rules. We all are. And we’d all love these numbers to be lower than they are. We’d all love the rules to be different. We’d love to get our sense of normal back in every way. And I’m not critical of anybody for feeling that way. That’s just a natural result of being in the 10th month of one of the worst years we’ve ever had.
Daniel Andrews: (29:27)
And it goes all the way back to bushfires. There are some communities that just have not caught a break at all, all year. We always monitor compliance. I haven’t got my report from VICPOL around the weekend’s enforcement activity. I’ll probably get that, some details about that later on the day.
It’s virtually none from what I can see.
Daniel Andrews: (29:43)
It’s virtually none.
Daniel Andrews: (29:46)
Well, there’s no police. So basically an example-
Daniel Andrews: (29:49)
Oh, no. There’s pretty significant enforcement, but obviously they’re not everywhere for every single offense.
That’s what I mean. Here’s an anecdote. You go to Princes Park, the great home of [inaudible 00:30:00] football club.
Daniel Andrews: (30:00)
Yes, yes. That’s for the record, that one.
You get there and it’s just hundreds of people, hundreds of people in that 20 to, say, 35 cohort. 10% with masks. Yet, no police nothing. I mean, that’s a pretty stark evidence of something.
Daniel Andrews: (30:15)
Well, let me again, let me follow that up. Again I don’t have a report of that, but I’ll take your word for it. The key point here is that I can stand here every day, and I can lecture, and I can try and provide advice, and reassurance, and the facts, and be as frank as I can be. But ultimately I can’t control, none of us can control, the choices. The literally millions and millions of choices that we as a community make every single day. Now what I’m about to say is not meant to be critical, but this is what we’re up against, John. Ultimately, people have got to take some personal responsibility for nothing more than this. Not about what’s happened. Not about the past and all, and trying to change people who’ve made the wrong choices, and all that. It’s not about that.
Daniel Andrews: (31:06)
But we all have to try and take responsibility for the decisions we make in the weeks and the months ahead. Because that will directly affect how quickly we open, if we can stay open, how many people will get sick, and whether our hospitals will be able to cope. And we’ve all got a stake in that. And I haven’t got the breakdown by age, but I’ll get it now that you’ve prompted me to. But last October, we had a couple thousand people had to be admitted to hospital, urgent care, critical care, because they had a heart attack. And last October, we had a couple of thousand people who had to be admitted to hospital again into intensive care, critical care, because they had had a stroke. Those 4,000 people, if all of our ICU beds are full or even if they’re under strain, not even full. If they’re just under strain. And if we’ve got infections, and we have to furlough a whole bunch of staff.
Daniel Andrews: (32:01)
And look, as much work as we’ve done, intensivists don’t grow on trees. The sort of class of person in our hospital that can only provide that care, there’s always limits. So to avoid a fine, to get open quicker, to stay open, to protect people, not even from COVID. But other people who will need that part of the health system. And if it’s full of COVID patients, then those beds just won’t be available. We all have to acknowledge that each of us, in lots of really small ways, like wearing a mask, make a massive contribution to all of those things. And it’s in our hands. And you can have this debate at a number of levels. You can take it at a macro level and, “Oh, well, you should always assume there’s a percentage of people who won’t do the right thing,” and all those sorts of things. Or you can get really personal, really local. And you can say that the decisions that are made in each of our households will affect every single household.
Daniel Andrews: (32:57)
And that’s just where we find ourselves. And that’s the wicked nature of this thing because it moves so fast. On Princes Park, on enforcement though, I’ll get you some further data about how many fines are issued and how many… We might not give you the exact number because Victoria Police get a bit funny about that, but we’ll give you a sense of how much enforcement activity was out there. And any plans for that to go up or down. I don’t think it’ll be going down.
Speaker 8: (33:21)
Premier, can I just have a-
Speaker 9: (33:22)
We don’t have the chart or the deputy chart here. Are you able to give us a sense, a bit of a breakdown, of where those new cases, what clusters they’re linked to?
Daniel Andrews: (33:27)
I can’t. But I will, but the chart release will be out very soon.
Speaker 8: (33:31)
Daniel Andrews: (33:31)
And if there’s any follow-ups out of that, Lundy, we’re more than happy to try and chase that up for you.
Speaker 8: (33:34)
Premier, let’s go back to your last point and you were talking about reissuing, redoing the roadmap. If you are going to do that, how can Victorians trust the dates of the targets that you’re setting if they’ve changed so many times over the past few months? You initially had step three at 26th of October, but now you took that way.
Daniel Andrews: (33:51)
Speaker 8: (33:52)
Then said it could be the [8th 00:33:54] Of October.
Daniel Andrews: (33:54)
Well, it’s not a matter of-
Speaker 8: (33:55)
It may not be that-
Daniel Andrews: (33:55)
[Salm 00:09:56], with the greatest of respect. This is not a static thing. It’s a dynamic virus and you have to update your plans accordingly, and plans are forecasts. They’re what you plan to do. They’re what you hope to do. All things being equal, but again, this thing has proven the world over that it’s not a stationary target. It moves rapidly. It spreads wildly. You can have it, give it to a bunch of others, and never even know that you had it. That’s the wicked nature of this thing. So if we’re to be, if I’m to be criticized, if we’re to be criticized for trying to take the actual data and update the plan accordingly, well then the people are free to make that judgment if they choose. I do recall though that after, going back earlier into the second wave, people were very, very keen to have targets, and to have a clear sense of what we were aiming for, and to have dates alongside those targets.
Daniel Andrews: (35:01)
So we’ve tried to provide that. But at no point, at no point, have I ever sought to guarantee that we would be able to deliver an outcome on a day. That’s just, that isn’t the nature of this fight, I’m afraid. I wish I could. Much like I wish I could look down the camera and tell every Victorian all the different things I hope to announce on Sunday. That’ll be based on today’s data, and whether the 10 cases that we think are linked to family outbreaks are in fact linked to family outbreaks. Whether the other five, we can track and trace all of those, and have a clear sense that they’re not mystery cases. Plus tomorrow, the day after, the day after, the day after that. That is the fight we’re in, I’m afraid. And it is deeply frustrating for everybody, I think.
Speaker 8: (35:48)
So is it better to be clear that those dates, those targets, may not be certain as such when they’re re-announced again on Sunday?
Daniel Andrews: (35:57)
Well, I think, I’m not, we’re kind of [inaudible 00:36:01] I think about the frustrating nature of this. At no point have I ever said to people that these are some sort of stone tablet, and that on this day we will take the following step. It’s always been heavily caveated to say subject to how much virus there is. Subject to the narrative that sits behind those cases. And again, we’ve perhaps we have not been as clear as we could have been. I’ll be very clear now, when you make forecasts then it’s always subject, it’s always subject to what happens. And that gets back to John’s point, that how much virus is out there is a function, both of the nature of this virus and all the points I just made about the infectivity of it, but it is also subject to those millions of choices that we all make.
Daniel Andrews: (36:43)
Whether we’ll go to the park and not wear a mask. Whether we’ll sneak over and see a friend. Whether we’ll go to work when we’ve got a sniffle and we perhaps really shouldn’t do that. We know we shouldn’t do that. That’s not a matter of blame. I’m just being upfront. That’s what drives this thing. That’s absolutely what drives it.
Speaker 8: (36:59)
Have you heard the comments from the World Health Organization overnight about lockdowns? But encouraging governments to not use lockdowns as the primary source of suppressing the virus. Especially when you have the lockdowns in the first wave, you were very clear that they were there to flatten the curve and get the system ready. So is the system ready? And can the lockdowns be lifted because the system is ready?
Daniel Andrews: (37:21)
Well, we’ll make announcements about easing on Sunday and at points in time after that. Lockdowns are not there for any other reason than to limit movement. And if you limit movement and the interaction between groups of people, then you limit the number of cases. And proof positive of that is the fact that we started on 725, and we’re at now 15 cases. And we’ve had a daily average of 9.9 cases in metro Melbourne. And if you look to regional Victoria and you see the fact that they did get numbers down low, and despite significant opening up, they’d like to open further I know that. But they have opened up significantly. Those numbers have remained steady. Those numbers have remained very steady. So it can be done. It will be done. I’m just trying to be, in answer to Ralph’s question, I’m just trying to be as clear as I can to say, this is not a theoretical exercise.
Daniel Andrews: (38:12)
This is not some doctoral thesis where we’re going to keep everyone locked up till we get to zero. We will have to make judgments about what is achievable. Now at the same time, that’s not a concession to some of the comments you [will 00:38:28] see today. Oh, open up today. Open up yesterday. Not only is that, well, it’s not only unhelpful, but it just completely ignores the science of this. Because I can tell you what happens if we open up on 15 cases, and 9.9, at this point in time. If we open up right now, then it will be almost impossible for us to keep this thing contained. And every jurisdiction in the world that’s done it has had that same challenge.
Daniel Andrews: (38:58)
I understand every day here is a balancing act between trying to give people as much information, and as much certainty, as much clarity as possible. But also being guided by the science of it. And I know there’s a lot of pain out there, and I know people are genuinely sick and tired of this year. I’m one of them. But I can’t let my frustration get the better of me, neither can Victorians. I can’t stand here and pretend that it’s over because I desperately, desperately want it to be. That’s not leadership. Because you’ll be popular for five minutes, and then the hospitals will be overrun. And all the people out there calling for us to open up, now including some members of the federal government I might add, I don’t think they’ll be standing beside me having to explain why our hospital system is completely over run. You won’t see them for dust.
Daniel Andrews: (39:49)
So that’s not leadership. Being popular or political, never been less important to me. We’ve got to see this through. We can’t ignore the progress we’ve made. We shouldn’t do that. We should not do that. We should be proud of what we’ve been able to achieve. And we should be as stubborn as this virus. Because if we’re not, it’ll be back. And it’ll be-
Speaker 5: (40:12)
May I ask-
Daniel Andrews: (40:12)
And it’ll be back in unprecedented terms.
Speaker 5: (40:16)
Premier, can I ask you a question? In relation to the standard form contracts for the provision of private security at the hotels, there’s a standard requirement in all the contracts. And they commenced from, as you know, the night you stood everything up on the 29th of March. The decision obviously was taken on the Friday, or the National Cabinet decision was taken. You announced it in your press conference at 3:00. But in the standard form contracts, there is a requirement that everyone who is working private security in these COVID hotels must have already completed the Australian Federal Government’s COVID-19 Online Control Course. And even before National Cabinet broke, as I said just after 1:00, one of the companies that eventually got a contract worth $30 million called Unified Security was given a heads up because it demanded its staff on Friday, the 27th of March at 12:36, that they all had to comply, do the federal government course, and that they must do it by 2:30 PM. At which time we know with when the prime minister was announcing that there would be hotel quarantine.
Speaker 5: (41:34)
Now the mere fact that this company who got a $30 million contract is saying at 12:36 on the Friday to its employees before National Cabinet had even broken up that this course must be done. That that is a requirement that was in the term of all of your state government contracts, and that the only people privy to the decision of National Cabinet, which had yet to break it up, was Mr. Eccles, who left the room and spoke to your Chief of Staff and spoke to Simon [Finster 00:18:07]. I’m asking you again, surely your Chief of Staff who has not given evidence and has not given a statement to the Inquiry, you say you set the Inquiry up for transparency to get to the bottom of this. This would seem at odds with transparency, should your Chief of Staff provide evidence to the Inquiry.
Daniel Andrews: (42:28)
Who the Inquiry seeks evidence from and the nature of any requests they make is entirely a matter for them. Entirely a matter for them. And I understand that whether it be Unified Security or other security providers have made submissions. They’ve cross examined witnesses. They have asked many, many questions and put their view, as they see things. That’s-
Speaker 5: (42:57)
Now Mr. David Millward didn’t give testimonies.
Daniel Andrews: (42:59)
No. I’m not talking-
Speaker 5: (43:01)
Premier, he didn’t give any testimony.
Daniel Andrews: (43:04)
I didn’t name that individual. I haven’t named any individual. I was cross-examined by their barrister. So I don’t think it’s a point of contention that they are part of the Inquiry. I really don’t think that you could argue that.
Speaker 5: (43:13)
No, I’m not saying that. Because I’m reading from his exhibit. But what I’m saying was, you were not questioned over this discrepancy.
Daniel Andrews: (43:18)
Speaker 5: (43:18)
Because I don’t think people picked up that Mr. Eccles left at 12:00.
Daniel Andrews: (43:22)
Indeed. What I was questioned on is a matter for the board, and council assisting, and any other parties that were part of that process. The Inquiry has got a job to do. Who they call, what they look at, is entirely a matter for them. And I think it is perhaps unfair to somehow run a commentary on anyone who’s not appeared at this Inquiry as somehow having done the wrong thing. The Inquiry determines who turns up, and what they’re asked, and then draws conclusions from that. And let me be very clear with you and everyone, I have no involvement whatsoever in who gets called. None at all. Nor do I have any involvement in what they’re asked. Nor do I have any involvement or anyone in the government have any involvement, in the submissions that were led by counsel assisting.
Speaker 5: (44:23)
Right. You set the Inquiry up.
Daniel Andrews: (44:23)
A lengthy process, and a very, very important one.
Speaker 5: (44:25)
Premier, you set the Inquiry up.
Daniel Andrews: (44:27)
I did, yes.
Speaker 5: (44:27)
You determined its terms of reference.
Daniel Andrews: (44:27)
I’m pleased that you’ve acknowledged that.
Speaker 5: (44:30)
You determined that it was established as a board of Inquiry, as opposed to a Royal Commission with far greater powers than it has. Before the National Cabinet broke up at 1:00, your now former departmental head, left the room and communicated the decision in depth to your Chief of Staff, so says his evidence. And spoke to Simon Finster, so says his evidence.
Daniel Andrews: (44:55)
Speaker 5: (44:56)
Simon Finster then went off and started to look at a whole range of detailed arrangements in relation to private security at quarantine hotels. That is no [creeping 00:45:06] assumption to me, or to anyone else who can put together a timeline. And we now know that when the meeting broke up at 1:11, very quickly there was a message from Graham Ashton asking, “Are VICPOL involved in this?” And we now know a call that’s led to the resignation of your departmental chief at 1:17-
Daniel Andrews: (45:26)
Speaker 5: (45:27)
After a 1:16 incoming text to Eccles. Mr. Eccles calls back Mr. Ashton and says, “It’s all okay because he went around, as you know, in subsequent text to the A of P.”
Daniel Andrews: (45:37)
Well, no, no, no. See, that’s where-
Speaker 5: (45:37)
Saying that there is a special deal.
Daniel Andrews: (45:38)
No, no. Let’s be very clear, I don’t know what was said on that call. We don’t know what was said on that call. You can offer a theory. You can offer a construction of events.
Speaker 5: (45:49)
Well I’m offering a construction-based-
Daniel Andrews: (45:50)
But what I’d say with the greatest of respect-
Speaker 5: (45:51)
On a former police chief’s-
Daniel Andrews: (45:53)
Well, what I would say-
Speaker 5: (45:54)
Daniel Andrews: (45:54)
Yes. And with the greatest of respect, it is not for me. And therefore, I won’t be trying to draw conclusions from that. There’s a process that’s been set up to make exactly those judgements and many, many others.
Speaker 5: (46:09)
Premier, what instructions did you give Mr. Eccles before he left the room? Because in his evidence, and you were not asked about this, in Mr. Eccles’ evidence, he says, “I had a conversation with the Premier in National Cabinet before I left the room at 12:00,” and that was not pursued-
Daniel Andrews: (46:27)
He’s sitting beside me. He’s sitting beside me in the National Cabinet.
Speaker 5: (46:28)
Correct. And he said he had a conversation with you prior to leaving at 12 noon-
Daniel Andrews: (46:34)
Speaker 5: (46:34)
When you spoke to your Chief of Staff, and we don’t know what that substance was about. And we know that he spoke to Mr. Finster, because Mr. Eccles and Mr. Finster have given evidence. And we now know from all the material led to the inquiry, that there was work done immediately on private security. Immediately on private security. And you yourself announced it at 3:15 that same day.
Daniel Andrews: (46:56)
No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
Speaker 5: (46:56)
What did you say to Mr. Eccles as you left the room?
Daniel Andrews: (47:02)
No such an [inaudible 00:47:02] was made at 3:15 that day.
Speaker 5: (47:03)
Yes, there was.
Daniel Andrews: (47:04)
Speaker 5: (47:04)
In your transcript you mentioned private security.
Daniel Andrews: (47:06)
Speaker 5: (47:07)
And your press release. You mention private security.
Daniel Andrews: (47:08)
Well, and you have, I’m sorry to say, not mentioned the very next sentence in that press conference. The transcript, the video of which is very clear, where I indicated that these matters had not been settled and I would not be able to make announcements as to the structure of the program until they had been settled. That is a rather important omission in your construction of events. Well-
Speaker 5: (47:33)
Well, if I can conclude, it was settled at the 4:00 meeting that went on after you finished.
Daniel Andrews: (47:37)
Well, which is somewhat… Well, if it were or weren’t, is a matter for the board to determine, not for me. I’m not advancing theories on matters. I was asked about it and I’ve answered absolutely accurately. But I suppose you can’t quite have it both ways that I said something at 3:15-
Speaker 5: (47:54)
I’m not trying to. I’m quoting your own transcript.
Daniel Andrews: (47:54)
But it didn’t happen till four. What I’m saying to you is that if you read on, to literally the very next breath in the press conference, that
Daniel Andrews: (48:03)
… literally the very next breath in the press conference that I gave, I made it abundantly clear that I could not make announcements about these very matters because they had not been settled.
Speaker 10: (48:13)
No, they weren’t-
Daniel Andrews: (48:14)
What’s more, what’s more if I can say,-
Speaker 10: (48:14)
Premier, there was a decision to take …
Daniel Andrews: (48:14)
What’s more, if I can say, these matters are not settled by me, nor my chief of staff. These are operational matters and they are not only as a function of custom and practice, but in many respects, a function of statutory responsibilities. The chief commissioner cannot be directed on any matter by me. The emergency management commissioner cannot be directed, other than in very limited circumstances and inconveniently for this construction, by me. I am not his minister. In any event, the board will look at all of these matters, all of them, and indeed more.
Speaker 10: (48:59)
The board didn’t ask you what conversation you had with Mr. Eccles prior to him leaving the national cabinet meeting [foreign language 00:49:04].
Daniel Andrews: (49:04)
Well, I can assure you I did not advise him or discuss with him doing things that would be of a deeply operational nature.
Speaker 10: (49:11)
Did you have a conversation with Mr. Eccles?
Daniel Andrews: (49:11)
No such conversation ever occurred, nor has any evidence been led to suggest that.
Speaker 10: (49:18)
Did you have a conversation, Premier? Premier, did you have a conversation with Mr. Eccles at any point at which you left the room at 12:00, noon, in relation to security regarding hotels?
Daniel Andrews: (49:27)
Speaker 10: (49:28)
No conversation at all?
Daniel Andrews: (49:31)
Speaker 11: (49:31)
Premier, just on the [crosstalk 00:00:49:33].
Daniel Andrews: (49:36)
I was asked a very direct question. I was asked a very direct question: Do I know who made that decision? Under oath I answered that question no, so of course the answer to your question is similarly, no.
Daniel Andrews: (49:50)
I would make the point, I’ve made one submission into the inquiry. Just one. Just one. I’ve not needed to correct or add to any of the evidence I gave because I have been, as I am in all matters, accurate. That is the truth of this, and we’ll await the findings. I also note that in submissions made by counsel assisting, there was no reflection on anything that I had said. In any event, we all must wait. As frustrating as that might be, we all must wait until early November when we receive the report of the board.
Speaker 12: (50:26)
Just on those corrections, Premier, Mr. Eccles today is the second senior public servant to have clarified evidence given to an inquiry in the past week.
Daniel Andrews: (50:35)
Speaker 12: (50:35)
Should Victorians have confidence in inquiry sort of getting to the bottom of things? Are there going to be more clarification, do you fear, that might come from public servants?
Daniel Andrews: (50:44)
Well, to be absolutely clear about it, if clarifications and needed to be made, then they should be made. I think that’s far preferable than them not being made for the purposes of politeness or anything else. It’s answers to questions that we want, that’s why the board was set up. I’m not at all pleased that the head of the public services had to correct or add to the evidence that he had provided. But at the same time, I would make the point, I’m not at all pleased to have had to set this inquiry up.
Daniel Andrews: (51:16)
I’ll remind you why I had to set it up, because I couldn’t get answers to the questions that I was asking once the genomic sequencing came through. Within hours of that genomic sequencing report being handed to me, being given all the results of it, being given to me, I established the board of inquiry and they have gone about their work ever since, and they will provide a report. It will be publicly available. I don’t know what’s going to be in it. That’s not a matter for me. I want it to be as complete as possible, and I have confidence that it will be. Just because answers are not necessarily forthcoming in direct evidence or testimony, the board is still absolutely free to draw conclusions and to make findings, that’s the nature of these things. It doesn’t need to be absolutely obvious in evidence led for them to draw conclusion, that’s not the way these inquiries, sometimes it is the way they work, but many times it isn’t. I don’t see that as a limiting factor. They are free to make judgments, and I’m confident that they will.
Speaker 12: (52:15)
Given the resignation of Mr. Eccles following his sort of conflict in evidence, can Mr. [Crisp 00:52:22] stay in his role given he’s done the same thing?
Daniel Andrews: (52:26)
Well, no. He has provided some statements in relation to the public accounts and estimates committee. I don’t think that there’s an equivalency in subject matter or in … Let’s be very clear about this, Mr. Eccles made a pretty binary statement, and it turned out that that was not the case. As soon as he became aware of that, I think he’s done the right thing.
Speaker 12: (52:49)
Well, I think Mr. Crisp made a similarly binary statement when he said, “I didn’t brief the minister,” or I did brief the minister.”
Daniel Andrews: (52:56)
Again, I’m not involved in that statement, the production of it, the substance of it, the timing of it. You’d need to speak to him about how he views those matters. If you want to put that comparison to him, then of course you’re afraid to do that, but I’m not a spokesperson for him.
Speaker 13: (53:10)
Premier, the reopening of schools today was a decision made a few weeks ago when we were tracking really well with case numbers. Are you concerned that the current position puts us at risk of a third wave that spreads through schools?
Daniel Andrews: (53:22)
No, I don’t think so. I think that the work that the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has done to give us a really clear insight into the infectivity and transmission risk of younger kids, so there’s all their primaries covered, that’s in a very different position to more senior students. I think school communities, teachers, staff, parents, and students are all taking this very seriously. There are some protocols, mask wearing, cleaning, all of those sorts of things, distancing, rules about people, you’re not staff or a student, you can’t come onto the school grounds, all of those things. I think parents have done an amazing job. Teachers and staff have done an amazing job. One of our three students in our household went back today and he was delighted to be back. This is his year 12 year. It’s a really significant year for him and for all of his mates. There is a risk always with these things, but I think it can be managed.
Daniel Andrews: (54:22)
The Nazareth College issue, a school I know extremely well, extremely well, it’s in my electorate and I visited there many, many, many times, I’d be absolutely confident that they’ll do the right thing, absolutely, in anything they have to do to get their school open and to have students that may have been in that gap cohort appropriately isolated and tested further to some of the discussions we had with Ralph earlier.
Speaker 13: (54:49)
[inaudible 00:54:49] school given an exemption to meet at night? There was a confrontation in Elsternwick with people yelling on the street, accusing each other of breaking the rules and saying, “I have an exemption.” Do you know much about that?
Daniel Andrews: (54:59)
I don’t. But I can find out for you. I’m more than happy to do that.
Speaker 14: (55:03)
Premier? I’m sorry. Premier, Ingrid Stitt still on the estimates committee? Is there a conflict there because she’s now a minister? [crosstalk 00:07:10].
Daniel Andrews: (55:10)
Yeah. I think there’ll be a change to the membership of that committee.
Speaker 15: (55:15)
Have you given any consideration to the idea or had discussions with premiers about the idea of regional travel bubble, say using Avalon to allow regional Victorians to travel interstate?
Daniel Andrews: (55:22)
Not recently, but it’s something I think that we will turn our mind to and have a discussion with interstate colleagues. I’ll take this opportunity again to thank interstate colleagues for the support they’ve given to us. I’ve said this many times, but I don’t want any sense of criticism about the decisions that they’ve made. I know it’s hard for border communities. I grew up not far from that border and I know that it is very, very challenging. But if the circumstances were different and we were in the position that New South Wales is in and vice versa, then I think we would have made the same choice.
Daniel Andrews: (55:54)
The key point is though the way to get those borders open and to have a greater freedom of movement is to continue to drive those case numbers down. Government’s got a role to play in that, a big team, a big health team, police, everybody’s got a role to play in that, and so does every single Victorian. It’s not a statement of blame. It’s just a statement of fact. If we all make good decisions, then we will pull this thing up. If we, as I’ve said many times, if we allow our frustration to get the better of us, and heavens knows this has been a frustrating year, then we won’t see those numbers come down and therefore these borders won’t be open.
Premier, on the Chadstone outbreak, you said you believed it’s been handled well. Why wasn’t advice about it being a high-risk location made public until eight days after the manager tested positive?
Daniel Andrews: (56:48)
I’d need to come back to you on exactly what communications DHHS put out there.
Do you think everyone who set foot in Chadstone should have been told to get tested from the start?
Daniel Andrews: (56:56)
Well, I think that the more we know and understand about this outbreak, the use of public facilities, toilets in that area has been a key point where I think transmission has occurred. That’s the advice I have, the latest advice. As I’m briefed, Bridget, I think this has been handled well.
Daniel Andrews: (57:14)
There was some confusion, I think. People had an understanding that somehow it had been opened for business when it shouldn’t have been. It was closed twice, because it was closed, there was a deep clean, that was then. This is I think the key point there was a double-check done to make sure that the deep clean had been to the appropriate standard. It wasn’t a massive issue, but there was an issue with that clean, so it was closed again, cleaned again, and then it reopened. That butcher shop has been, and all the other traders in that area, as well as [inaudible 00:57:49] management have been nothing but closely working with us. They’ve been cooperative, they’ve worked with us and I want to thank all those people at Chadstone who’ve come and got tested, that’s been really, really important.
Daniel Andrews: (58:05)
As to the timeline in terms of what advice was provided, I’m happy for Brett or someone in the public health team to come back to you.
Speaker 16: (58:12)
Sorry, are you finished?
Speaker 16: (58:15)
One of the features of the first and second wave, actually, when you talk about bathrooms and this is drilling into the public health response …
Daniel Andrews: (58:21)
Speaker 16: (58:22)
That there was zero messaging in bathrooms. It was very clear when you visited places like Truganina and Tarneit that the messaging was virtually non-existent. I mean, has DHHS got into these bathrooms, put up the messaging, has it got its act together on the ground, given that that certainly didn’t happen at the start of the second wave? Can we have confidence that DHHS is gone in and really, really shaken up the way they’ve dealt with the second wave?
Daniel Andrews: (58:56)
Sure. Let me come back to you on the specific things that we’ve done in those settings, and there’ll be others as well. There’s a lot of other communal spaces that are used in different settings, cleaning regimes. Again, this is even more important, particularly given some of the stuff overnight about the life cycle of this thing being 28 days, so that’s being looked at very closely about whether there’s further, even above what we’re doing now, is there even more work that needs to be done? That’s a very good question. Let me come back to you.
Speaker 17: (59:24)
Premier, Tarneit said last week that people with medical conditions or disabilities could access hydrotherapy pools in indoor settings, which is often the only ones available to them to be able to use for therapeutic purposes, from private pools such as hospitals and the outpatient centers and rehabilitation centers. We’ve since heard from people with disabilities and activists that essentially this option isn’t available to people because hospitals won’t let outpatients in and same with rehabilitation centers. Is there any consideration for the opening on Sundays, for some easing on Sunday to allow indoor pools open for people with medical exemptions or doctors certificate or to work with hospitals to ensure that the people who need to get in are able to?
Daniel Andrews: (01:00:07)
Certainly. If you perhaps we’ll keep the privacy of those people private, but if you let my office know, give them the examples if those people are happy to have their names go forward or at least the setting, where they couldn’t access that, I’m more than happy to follow that up and bring that to the attention of the chief health officer. If that’s something that we can consider, it seems to me that rather than doing it on Sunday, it seems like we’ve already provided the advice, but it’s not happening, so let’s chase that up and see whether it can be made to happen, because obviously in the view of the public health team, that is in fact safe. We know that chlorinated water and those environments is safer than some other environments, and that’s why some pools are open. There’s a bias towards our doors though, for obvious reasons. Indoors is 20 times more dangerous. But if the construction is that there’s been advice, but it’s not being delivered on the ground, if you give us those details, I’m more than happy to chase that up.
Speaker 18: (01:01:02)
Premier, just the fit testing of masks.
Daniel Andrews: (01:01:05)
Speaker 18: (01:01:06)
Professor Wilson was here I think about four weeks ago-
Daniel Andrews: (01:01:08)
Speaker 18: (01:01:09)
They still haven’t got the fit-testing machine at Box Hill. Is that a problem? Is that too slow?
Daniel Andrews: (01:01:13)
Let me draw you to an answer that the chief health officer gave yesterday, where there were similar questions asked and he committed to get Professor Wilson the head of the chief medical officer to have more to say about that matter. I’ll remind him that that’s a commitment he gave and he should act on that promptly. I’m confident he will.
Speaker 19: (01:01:30)
Should hair and beauty salons be canceling, sorry.
Daniel Andrews: (01:01:33)
That’s all right.
Speaker 20: (01:01:35)
Would you consider opening shopping strips rather than shopping centers if they’re more of a risk?
Daniel Andrews: (01:01:42)
No decision’s been made on retail. I think it’s unlikely that this weekend there’ll be a big shift in terms of retail. There are risks not so much with the setting, the risk relates to movement.
Daniel Andrews: (01:01:56)
We’ve had Bunnings put pretty clear views to us, our stores are safe, we haven’t had any outbreaks, and that’s largely true, I mean that in that they only know what they know. The notion that no positive person has moved through one of their stores or any other retail store is probably unlikely. I think they almost certainly have. It’s not so much that their premises, because they’ve done a great job with cleaning and all their protocols, I want to make that point very clearly. It’s not so much the problem with the setting, it’s letting all the customers out of their homes to then go and shop there. That’s, that’s the real challenge.
Daniel Andrews: (01:02:34)
It gets back to that whole aggregate risk argument, which is again challenging, but they are the facts of the matter. But all of these things, all of these settings will be looked at. The problem, although it’s the only way to go on any list, the only things that will be selected are the things that are safe.
Speaker 21: (01:02:57)
Premier, if the current strategy doesn’t work, do you have a Plan B?
Daniel Andrews: (01:03:02)
Well, I think that you’ve got a series of targets. You’ve got to clear aim to get the place open as safely and as steadily as possible. We constantly monitor constantly evaluate what is achievable. We constantly monitor and evaluate what is the most proportionate response to the risks that we face. I’m just trying to be clear with people that, and I’m not announcing that everything’s coming off on Sunday or the following Sunday, I’m just trying to be clear to say that there may come a time when the stubbornness of this thing is really well confirmed for us and you then have to make a really difficult judgment about, well, is this as good as it’s going to get? And that, yes, there’s increased risk, but the cost of keeping the lockdown on for even longer is greater than that risk.
Daniel Andrews: (01:03:52)
They’re not decisions that have been made, but they’re the things that we are thinking about. I think Victorians would want us to be thinking about those things. They’re incredibly difficult judgments because, as was mentioned a moment ago in terms of schools, you don’t feel the impact of decisions for two to three weeks after you make them. That’s why there’s always a conservatism in this because you can’t kind of take it back, or at least you don’t want to.
Speaker 19: (01:04:24)
Should hair and beauty salons be canceling appointments they might have tentatively put in their diary for Monday in the hope that things were going to change? [inaudible 01:04:32]
Daniel Andrews: (01:04:32)
No decision has been made on those matters. I’m not foreshadowing one way or the other. I would just say whether it be one of those businesses or a bar, restaurant, cafe, pub, no matter what the setting, all of those bookings, the status of those can only be determined once we’ve made a final call on what’s safe for us to do in the next step. If that causes inconvenience, I’m sorry about that. I am. But those bookings were only ever made and our targets were only ever put out there on the basis of we’d have to look and see what the actual, what the real data told us, and we’d have to make those decisions again and again. I wish you could put out an absolutely definitive game plan for this thing and at each perfectly predictable and certain milestone, we could just take over into the next phase. That is not the virus we’re up against that. It just isn’t
Speaker 22: (01:05:38)
[inaudible 01:05:38] Chris Eccles getting his phone records, you and some of your staff were getting their phone records retrieved as well. Have you looked through yours and in there was there anything that gives you more insight into how decisions are made or that might change any events that you [crosstalk 01:05:52]
Daniel Andrews: (01:05:52)
No, I haven’t. I haven’t seen mine yet. They’ll apparently take some time. If they’re not there already though, they’ll be there probably today and they’ll be handed up to the inquiry.
Speaker 22: (01:06:01)
Will you look through them yourself?
Daniel Andrews: (01:06:03)
Probably, yes. If I get time. But I’ve had a good long hard think about that day and every day since, and I’ve provided my evidence to the inquiry and I do not know who made that decision. That is the fact of the fact of the matter. I think I did indicate earlier over the weekend that I had not called Chief Commissioner Ashton, and I think that that’s now been made clear.
Speaker 23: (01:06:30)
Premier, can I just ask you, just yesterday you talked about those phone records and I understand directly from Lisa Neville’s office that she has not been asked for records and no one else in the Department of Premier and Cabinet beyond Mr. Eccles has been yet asked for their records. I’ve had that verified. You discussed yesterday about the type of material to be provided, because it’s on request to the telecommunications carrier, as opposed to a warrant, it will not and cannot include encrypted material because that’s not within the scope of the telecommunications carrier unless it’s warranted under federal power.
Daniel Andrews: (01:07:14)
Speaker 23: (01:07:16)
Will your office willingly provide their devices so that, because the devices will keep the encrypted material even if the carrier can’t provide it, will your office, will you provide access to Confide, …
Daniel Andrews: (01:07:32)
Speaker 23: (01:07:32)
Slack, Signal, WhatsApp?
Daniel Andrews: (01:07:34)
We’re happy to. We’re happy to fully comply with the request that’s been made.
Speaker 23: (01:07:40)
That means handing over the [crosstalk 01:07:37].
Daniel Andrews: (01:07:42)
I don’t use WhatsApp very much. I’ll tell you who put me onto WhatsApp, Scott Morrison did because that’s where the national cabinet feed is. I’ve been very clear. We’ve been asked for this communication, I’m ambivalent on what platform was used. We will fully comply and provide all information. We’ll provide all information to the board of inquiry.
Speaker 23: (01:08:04)
You’ve been asked for information by your carrier, and the problem I’m saying is the carrier doesn’t think-
Daniel Andrews: (01:08:09)
Well, I don’t see it as a problem because we’re happy to hand over the lot, which is what I said the other day. I’m ambivalent, unconcerned, not particularly interested in what platform any communications were on. We will provide it all, provide all of it; and that’s exactly what we’ve said and that’s exactly what we’ll do.
Speaker 23: (01:08:28)
Okay. You just said then, just a minute ago, that you thought very deeply about that day on the 27th of March …
Daniel Andrews: (01:08:34)
Speaker 23: (01:08:36)
I’ve been in a room when you have been briefed in joint press conferences with a former prime minister, I have been there when you have been briefed by your staff for those press conferences, and you are one of the most meticulous press conference preparers I have seen in a senior politician. Meticulous in your preparation. I want to ask you why when you had your press conference on the 27th of March and announced that there would be the use of private security, and I’ve got the quotes from your transcript exactly, you talk about private security, you make mention of our health team, the compliance in static locations, hotels, et cetera. You say that and then there’s also a written press release.
Daniel Andrews: (01:09:25)
Speaker 23: (01:09:26)
Why would you say that there would be private security used on that day if you hadn’t made the decision or you weren’t aware of who made the decision?
Daniel Andrews: (01:09:36)
Well, a couple of points. Firstly, thank you so much for your very kind characterization of my professionalism. I’m very pleased, and we’ll put that on the record. That’s nice. But again, if I can, with the greatest of respect, nothing but respect, you have again selectively quoted from and reinterpreted what I said at the press conference. I’d made no such announcement. I did not announce anything. I talked about the fact that no decisions had been made and that I in fact could not make announcements and that I would make those announcements the following day, and I duly did.
Daniel Andrews: (01:10:16)
I think it’s just important, I’m well-placed to remember what I said, and I can tell you what I said, and the transcript confirms it, and the video of it confirms it. I talked about police, private security and our public health team. Then in the very next sentence, I went on almost apologetically to the assembled media because it was later in the day than I would normally appear and I and I knew off the bat that I was not going to be able to answer a whole range of questions because as I indicated, decisions had not yet been made. What’s more, what I didn’t necessarily say, but what is absolutely the fact of the matter, is that they’re not decisions that are made by me. I have neither the power nor the inclination to be interfering in deeply operational matters.
Daniel Andrews: (01:11:11)
I’ll go no further than that, because if I do I’ll be speculating about what did or did not occur at the state control center. I don’t know that, and I’m confining myself to what I know. I don’t think I can relevantly speculate or helpfully speculate, that’s a matter for the board to look at.
Speaker 23: (01:11:31)
At 2:00, Lisa Neville in a meeting with Mr. Crisp and Mr. Ashton declared that private security would be used and the Victoria police would not be used and that was an hour before your media appearance at 3:15.
Daniel Andrews: (01:11:44)
Well, I’m not entirely certain that that’s what she said.
Speaker 23: (01:11:48)
That’s in her evidence [inaudible 01:11:50]
Daniel Andrews: (01:11:50)
The inquiry can make judgements about the totality of her evidence, the totality of all evidence.
Speaker 23: (01:11:57)
But she’s one of your ministers. If you want to get to the bottom of it, surely you’ve asked her.
Daniel Andrews: (01:12:01)
Well, no, no. I think you-
Daniel Andrews: (01:12:03)
I’m well aware.
Speaker 24: (01:12:03)
You’ve asked her?
Daniel Andrews: (01:12:03)
Well, no. I think you might need to have a think about and have a look at whether she was asked a very direct question about that from the inquiry about whether she knows who made this decision. I haven’t gone and re-read her transcript, but I’m pretty sure that question would have been put to her. And I’m pretty confident in the answer she would have given.
Speaker 24: (01:12:19)
I’ve read very carefully what she said this morning. And she was pointedly asked a question from Mr. Ashton about Victoria police. And she made it very clear, Victoria police would not be used at two o’clock. And she reiterated that it was a choice that private security will be used.
Daniel Andrews: (01:12:34)
Well, was she asked a question about whether she knew who made that decision? I don’t have her transcript in front of me. And this is not really a forum where I get to ask you questions, but if I might be allowed, I think she was asked whether she knew, and I think I know what her answer was. In any event, I’m not going to be spending my time trolling through evidence led to an inquiry that would rather defeat the purpose of having an inquiry, which is a costly matter. But one, I think that is very important. That’s why I established it. That’s why I’ll let them write the report because after all they’re the inquiry and I’m not going to mock my own work.
Daniel Andrews: (01:13:14)
I’ve never sought to run an internal inquiry about these matters other than very early on, the day of, when I started asking questions and I couldn’t get answers. It’s at that point, literally hours later, just hours later, I stood right here and announced that there would be a board of inquiry. It took us a few days to settle on terms of reference and the retired judge to conduct it. But they began their work pretty much immediately. And it’s my view that we should wait and see what the product of that inquiry is, which will be rather a thick report, rather a lengthy report. I would think with recommendations with findings and we’ll respond and take the decisive action required to make sure that these types of mistakes can never happen again. That’s been my position and it’s not a position that’ll change.
Speaker 25: (01:14:04)
About a question on Bush Fire recovery.
Daniel Andrews: (01:14:06)
Recovery, yes. I’ve seen those reports today. Yes.
Speaker 25: (01:14:09)
So in those reports that almost all people who lost their home in the Bush Fires are still living in sheds and caravans. Have you forgotten about them?
Daniel Andrews: (01:14:17)
Not at all. And I was very distressed to see those reports today. And on behalf of those communities, we will have a call… And those clients. Those insurance company clients will have a conversation with the insurance council today, as we’ve done on many occasions. I was assured at the time, it is a long time ago, but we had reached out to insurance companies and we’ve been given on their behalf, I think, assurances that the policies will be paid out quickly, that there would be a real focus on trying to get people what they’re fundamentally entitled to. These good people have paid their premiums year on year, and they should get their payout as quickly as possible. So I’m in no way pleased that anybody’s waiting such a long period of time, but that’s only been brought to my attention this morning. And we’ll chase that up, we’ll chase that up today.
Speaker 25: (01:15:05)
So you don’t know why it’s taken so long and-
Daniel Andrews: (01:15:05)
No, I don’t, but I’m determined to find out so that we can… If we can play any part in assisting those people in getting what they’re entitled to, then we absolutely will.
Speaker 24: (01:15:17)
Some regional businesses are worried about a $10,000 fine if they don’t check IDs and they say a young staff member accidentally forgets to $10,000 fine. Why [inaudible 01:15:27] you can make them go fast. Is that fine fair?
Daniel Andrews: (01:15:30)
Well Bridget two points. One, this is not an invitation for people not to do that because it’s incredibly important that every business does it, but it is drafted in such a way that it is take reasonable steps. And what that means is every business has to do just that. Take reasonable steps to ascertain whether the person they’re about to serve is in fact from regional Victoria and therefore is allowed to be in that cafe or in that restaurant. Reasonable steps.
Daniel Andrews: (01:16:01)
And I’ll take this opportunity to reassure every regional Victorian business. If they are taking those reasonable steps, then they’re doing what the law requires of them. And I’ll also take the opportunity to thank thousands, tens of thousands of businesses who take every line in their COVID safe plan very, very seriously. And they’re working hard, I think, the vast, vast majority are working hard to make sure their venues are safe because they know if their venues aren’t safe not only will they get a fine, but they will be closed down and they put at risk the settings and the opening up that’s occurred right across regional Victoria, over these recent weeks.
Daniel Andrews: (01:16:46)
There’s no heavy handed approach here. I think people… I hope that none of these fines have to get issued. None of them at all, but it is appropriate. And I’ll put it to you that just finally, I’ll put it to you this way. Instead of getting into a confrontation with a customer, then the staff member, the owner of the business can very clearly say, “I’m required to ask you. I’m not choosing to do it. I’m not hassling you. I’m required to do it.” And it makes it very clear that the obligation sits with the patron, with the potential customer. Are they from Melbourne? And if they are, why are they trying to sit down in a cafe? The restrictions follow them. That ring of steel as it’s been termed, or that the border between Melbourne and regional Victoria has played a very important part, not the only part, but a very important part in keeping those regional Victoria numbers low. And that’s what we want. That’s what we want to maintain so that we can take further steps.
Speaker 25: (01:17:48)
If people will indulge me and I was going to ask this before. I’ve never asked why you made the decision to just answer every question. Why did you decide at the start of this that you were just going to face every single question until people are exhausted?
Daniel Andrews: (01:18:06)
Well, I don’t run from challenges. But [inaudible 01:18:10] look, these days are not about me or-
Speaker 25: (01:18:10)
I’m not saying [crosstalk 00:06:13].
Daniel Andrews: (01:18:11)
… about the information that I provide and I’m not pleading for sympathy. I’ve never done that. I know this is a tough job. I knew it when I ran for it. And I’ve known every day that I’ve had it. This is not an easy job. This is not an easy task. Nothing about 2020 is easy for any single Victorian. And there are people that have lost loved ones. There are healthcare workers that are in incredibly risky environments by nature of their work. There are businesses that are closed and they want to reopen for their profits, but also for their people. I know and understand all that. So there’s no special pleadings here, but I made a decision that this is one of the most difficult, dangerous, challenging times our state has ever faced. And the least I can do is front up every day. Answer every question, whether you’re all happy with the answers is a matter for you, but I’ll stay here for as long as I have to stay here to answer all those questions. It’s an important part of the job that I’ve got.
Daniel Andrews: (01:19:04)
Now, will it last forever? The turning up every day I mean. We’ll wait and see. Hopefully we can get to a point where we can make some changes and make some announcements. And then my good friend and colleague, the Deputy Premier can be here for a few days, at least, for a few days.
Speaker 25: (01:19:20)
At the risk of trying your patience and these people’s patience-
Daniel Andrews: (01:19:22)
You’re not trying my patience.
Speaker 25: (01:19:22)
… I’ve had tons of people ask me why can’t I come and ask questions? There’s any number of people and they’re not yet… They might have a particular interest in healthcare. There’s a whole lot of science, new cases, love to ask that question. Is there any way that people can say, “I write for this particular website,” is there any other way any other organizations-
Daniel Andrews: (01:19:41)
If people want to submit their questions via you or another platform-
Speaker 25: (01:19:47)
[inaudible 01:19:47] ask them personally.
Daniel Andrews: (01:19:47)
… I can probably look at that. More than happy to try and do it. And we are a little bit limited though, just because people can’t necessarily see the room, the cameras are faced this way. But this is a theater at Treasury place. Social distancing means that there’s only so many people that can be seated. And therefore we are a bit limited, which is why I think each outlet has one person. National Broadcaster might be slightly different because you’ve got different mediums. But I don’t know. Look, I’m not making any special platings. I just think it’s important to be here and to answer the questions as best I can. Part of that means that I do quite often say to you, “I don’t know the answer,” because I’m not going to sit here and make it up and I’ll get it for you. And the team worked really hard to try and do that.
Speaker 25: (01:20:38)
So how long does the daily Dan go on?
Daniel Andrews: (01:20:41)
Don’t know. Don’t know yet. John?
Speaker 25: (01:20:43)
Daniel Andrews: (01:20:45)
We’ll be here for as long as we need to be. And I think that until we start making some big steps out of this, I think it’s a perfectly appropriate mode. I go further than that. I don’t know.
Speaker 25: (01:20:56)
Warm up. Can I just ask how the first day of school-
Daniel Andrews: (01:20:59)
Was there anymore for me before… Because wouldn’t it be great if you exhausted all your questions on me, and then we can talk about schools. If you have, I assume it’s about schools.
Speaker 25: (01:21:07)
It is, yes.
Daniel Andrews: (01:21:08)
And then that’ll be us done for the day. Was there another one for me?
Speaker 25: (01:21:11)
Just ask one more.
Daniel Andrews: (01:21:13)
Speaker 24: (01:21:14)
In terms of contact tracing, just that for a moment. New South Wales has been in a position where they’ve gotten up to 10, 20 cases, 30 cases a day and have been able to not allow that to escalate. If we are thinking about easing the way we open up slightly, and perhaps this is as good as we get, are you confident that we could get back to 30 cases a day and then squash it back down without contract tracing capacity that we currently have?
Daniel Andrews: (01:21:41)
I am, but I would just make the point that in conversations with New South Wales, they’ve freely admitted that 50 cases a day for instance, is very, very challenging. And the notion of a 100, 200, 300, they’ve been pretty clear with us that that would… That’d be next to impossible because it just grows so quickly. You’ve got that absolutely exponential growth. And any picture you get, any picture is never a complete picture because again, no criticism, it’s just a fact. Not everyone with symptoms gets tested. Not everyone with symptoms gets tested quite as quickly as they should. So whatever you know it’ll be hopefully the most complete picture, but it will never be a totally complete picture. So there’s always a bit of bubbling going on. There’s always a bit of it out there, I think. And that’s why we’re not chasing zero forever.
Daniel Andrews: (01:22:39)
We know there will be cases and there will be outbreaks. I think the team is well set up, but none of us should underestimate the challenge. And again, it’s back to the point Ferg was raising earlier. It is about individual choices and arguably people doing the right thing becomes even more important once you’re open. So I’ll give you one quick example. You think about if Chadstone is open and someone goes to work when they’re sick, it’s not 30 cases. There’s no way it’s 30 cases. It’s much, much more than that. So that’s where this notion of sticking to it and making sure that we all keep playing our part, that arguably gets more and more important the greater freedoms people have because movement means virus. That’s what we know, sadly. Does that make sense?
Speaker 24: (01:23:33)
Daniel Andrews: (01:23:34)
Speaker 25: (01:23:36)
Sorry. A number of [inaudible 01:23:37] these this morning, a small number are saying privately that your position is tenable any longer. How would you respond to them?
Daniel Andrews: (01:23:46)
Could you give me their names?
Speaker 25: (01:23:47)
I’m not going to do that.
Daniel Andrews: (01:23:49)
Right. Well then I’m not going to respond because I don’t respond to anonymous claims. That doesn’t make much sense to me. If I start doing that, really, this is not a popularity contest. This is about leadership and getting this job done and I am absolutely determined and focused that I will, we will, get this job done.
Speaker 24: (01:24:11)
Are you looking forward to seeing [inaudible 01:24:14]?
Daniel Andrews: (01:24:15)
I am. It’s going to be… It’s a very, very, very special day. A very special day. Any more for me? Very good. The Deputy Premier’s been waiting to talk about schools.
Speaker 25: (01:24:29)
Anecdotally, how’s it going?
Speaker 26: (01:24:31)
It’s going well. And it’s an exciting day and it’s 584,000 students from today, return to school. So all the primary, year seven, VCAV, CAL and our special schools. And it’s a reflection of our success. We’re at this point today where students are back at school because of the success of Victorians in driving down the numbers. So we get the advice from public health, kids can go back. And in a couple of weeks time, we’ll have the reminder of our students, eight, nines and tens back at school. But it’s been a terrific day and excited kids, excited teachers and staff to get the kids back at school. And I think a massive sigh of relief for parents as well. And it was a different morning for the Premier. It was a different morning for me at home.
Speaker 26: (01:25:25)
The noise and activity that you’ve almost forgotten. The school chaos morning. Where’s my jumper. Have you packed the lunch? Where’s your bus pass? Come on. We’ve got to go. That all happened this morning. And that happened in hundreds and hundreds of thousands of households across Melbourne. So today’s a great day. And the very first priority for schools will be on students’ mental health and wellbeing. Getting them reconnected with their friends and their peers, get them back into the school routine. And then over the coming days and weeks, it’ll be assessments. Where are you at, at an individual level? That will be the assessment that will be made. There’s a whole bunch of assessment tools that schools have. And as we know, some students have thrived, many students have thrived. Many students have also struggled and will require that catch-up support and the Premier and I will have more to say about that very soon.
Speaker 25: (01:26:27)
Got a question from a viewer here. Do you plan to add assistance with children’s school packs for next year? Some packs are over a thousand dollars. Some families have multiple kids and we’re not able to work. I’m not sure what exactly the package is, but is that a problem for next year?
Speaker 26: (01:26:43)
We’re looking at a whole range of supports, whether that’s catch up with that supports for families, we’ve already got equity funding. We’ve already got a camp sports and excursions fund, which supports vulnerable families and kids. So we’re making those assessments and we’ll have more to say about what additional supports we can provide to families.
Speaker 24: (01:27:09)
Do you have any further information about the outbreak at the Nazareth College of Naval Health?
Speaker 26: (01:27:09)
So as the Premier was saying, Nazareth College is a terrific school. And what happens immediately when there’s a positive case, there’s a dedicated team at DHHS. They go in and work very swiftly in terms of chasing down the contacts. And there’ll be a clean of the school. Within a very short period of time the school will reopen. So the advice I’ve received to date, it’s one student, there’s no issues in terms of other students being close contacts. So I’m confident that DHHS will do its job. We’ll get the cleaning done and we’ll get the school re-opened very, very shortly.
Speaker 26: (01:27:54)
Catholic education, independent schools, and the government sector have been working extremely close together. And this will be a nature that… Sorry, I’ll start again. This will be a feature of what we need to deal with. Not just in Victoria, it’s in other States and territories. It’s around the world. Until we get community transmission down to a very, very minute level, until we get a vaccine, there will be occasions where, whether it’s a school or other settings, you will have cases, but we’ve got the systems in place to get the school reopened as quickly as possible. And I’m confident that all happened with Nazareth.
Speaker 25: (01:28:34)
Just on the issue Blake is referring to earlier at [inaudible 01:28:38] school, should they have been hosting people who weren’t students or teachers on their campus? And if not, will there be any form of department investigation into what might’ve gone on?
Speaker 26: (01:28:50)
As the Premier indicated we’ll investigate these matters. My understanding is that there were no exemptions granted for this activity, but I don’t have any further detail for you right now.
Speaker 24: (01:29:02)
When it comes to Al-Taqwa college, what lessons have we learned from that outbreak? Has there been any concrete changes we’ve made because of that?
Speaker 26: (01:29:10)
I think Al-Taqwa was interesting in terms of the context of all of our schools. So we’ve got more than 2,200 schools across our state. And as we’ve heard a number of times by the chief health officer, the deputy chief health officer in terms of our school system. And again, this was reflected in the Murdoch Research Institute report as well. Across our school system, most of the time, it’s one case, it’s a couple of cases. We’ve had very, very few cases where you’ve had multiple. So Al-Taqwa, the numbers in the college at Al-Taqwa was really a reflection of significant community transmission, in that community.
Speaker 26: (01:29:53)
The lessons we’ve learned, whether it’s from Al- Taqwa or any other school where we’ve had a positive case, are the things that we need to put in place as students return. So regular, additional cleaning, deep cleaning if there’s been a positive case and contact tracing. And then all the other strategies, staggered pickup and drop off times, not having non essential adults coming onto the site, separating year levels, particularly for the biggest school. So there’s a whole range of strategies we’ve got in place to make sure that our schools are as safe as possible. And the risk is as low as possible.
Speaker 25: (01:30:33)
Is there education you do similar to telling people to go to work if they’re symptomatic, is there a way you communicate to parents and children? If there are warning signs, if they’re feeling a bit sniffly not to go to school?
Speaker 26: (01:30:42)
Oh, absolutely. There’s very strong communication both to parents and carers, as well as to staff and to students when they’re at school. Anyone. Anyone. If you are feeling unwell, don’t go to school, get tested, stay home until you know what the results are. There’s also advice to staff, particularly high risk staff has been, if you’re in that high risk category, work remotely. For teachers in secondary schools, whilst we’ve got this transition from the first cohort of kids, so half the secondary schools are there, in a couple of weeks all secondary school students will be at school. At the moment, for a teacher, be at school when you’re required to teach or to supervise, beyond that work from home remotely. Particularly if you’re a teacher of years, eight, nine, 10 students.
Speaker 26: (01:31:36)
Terrific. Thanks, all.
Speaker 25: (01:31:37)
Thank you very much.
Daniel Andrews: (01:31:37)
See you tomorrow.