Andrews pressed on handling of pandemic in parliamentary committee

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been questioned about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and decisions the state has made so far, including the management of hotel quarantine and locking down public housing towers.

Mr Andrews started giving evidence at the public accounts and estimates committee on Tuesday morning.

The PAEC inquiry into the Victorian Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Credit:Screen shot

A decision to lock down the public housing towers in North Melbourne and Flemington was confirmed in the three hours before the announcement was made, Premier Daniel Andrews told the committee.

Mr Andrews said he acknowledged not every element of the response was perfect, but there was no manual to responding to a pandemic of this scale.

"The ultimate vulnerability here was not whether someone got fed in five hours or waited until the next day to get groceries," he said.

"The ultimate vulnerability here is for this virus to get into the towers and infecting everyone."

Greens MP Sam Hibbins is pursuing the questioning on public housing towers.

Deputy Chair and Liberal MP Richard Riordan has asked if the crisis cabinet decided hotel quarantine would be better run by people "who fix roads" than the health department.

"People across the board are performing roles and functions that are a long way away from what they might be traditionally expected to," Mr Andrews said.

Victoria's Liberal Opposition Leader, Michael O'Brien, earlier said he hoped the Premier would tell the truth to the committee.

"We want him to tell us who was responsible for the decision to put untrained bureaucrats and unprofessional private security guards in charge of hotel quarantine, instead of using the police or the ADF like every other state did," Mr O'Brien told radio station 3AW.

Mr Andrews told the committee every country battling a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has struggled to bring it under control as quickly as they suppressed the spread in the first wave.

"We know how challenging it is, particularly if it gets into high-risk countries, new and different cohorts, new and different backgrounds … where language can sometimes be an issue," Mr Andrews said.

"This is something that’s a great challenge for communities, economies and health systems."

The Premier updated the committee with the latest contact tracing figures, which show all positive cases have been followed up within 24 hours of getting a notification from the lab, as well as the transport figures and what support the government has provided.

More to come

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