Peta Credlin documentary: Explosive new claim about Victoria’s second wave origin

Sky News’ Peta Credlin has exposed a stunning omission from the inquiry into Victoria’s hotel quarantine failure, as a key player was ignored. 

An explosive investigation into Victoria’s bungled hotel quarantine system has revealed its “catastrophic” failures and a stunning omission from the inquiry into it.

Sky News host Peta Credlin presented the hour-long documentary, which aired on Sunday night, and showed the heartbreaking human stories which came about as a result of the failures.

Those failures are understood to be responsible for the vast majority of Victoria’s second wave, with 819 dead in the state to date and thousands of businesses closed for good.

Credlin spoke to a business owner who broke down in tears as he spoke of his struggles, a grieving family that was forced to say goodbye to a loved one on Zoom and a doctor who spoke of a surge in mental health problems.

She also asked big questions of the hotel quarantine inquiry — asking whether it was fit for purpose after it failed to take in evidence from a key player in the system.

That person is Andrew McLean, whose company Elite Protection Services (EPS), ran security at Rydges on Swanston — where the vast majority of Victoria’s second wave cases are understood to have stemmed from.

Almost all of Victoria’s second wave cases were linked back to the Rydges on Swanston. Picture: Wayne Taylor

Almost all of Victoria’s second wave cases were linked back to the Rydges on Swanston.

He told Credlin he detailed a breakdown in command and breaches of protocols in a submission to the hotel inquiry.

But for a reasons he cannot understand, his 500-page submission has not been accepted as evidence and he was never called up.

EPS had been subcontracted by the Sydney-based Unified Security which had been awarded the bulk of the hotel security work in a contract worth more than $30m.

He spoke of scenes of confusion at the hotel — where he claimed all the positive cases from other hotels and infected workers from the Cedar Meats plant were sent to stay.

“I don’t think any of us really knew how important this was, from a perspective of how dangerous the whole COVID situation was going to be,” he said.

“I literally didn’t leave Rydges. I came home for a bit of a sleep but for the first two weeks, I didn’t leave. So it was red hot. When I say it was hot, it was a high-pressure environment. You had multiple departments having different ideas about the way things should be run.”

Mr McLean said his company was dealing with the fact there were not established protocols about what guests were able to do.

“There was conversations and conflict between whether the guests were able to have fresh-air walks,” he said.

Andrew McLean’s company Elite Protection Services (EPS) ran security at Rydges on Swanston

Andrew McLean’s company Elite Protection Services (EPS) ran security at Rydges on Swanston

“There was conversations and conflict about whether they should have Uber Eats deliveries, whether they should have alcohol in their rooms, who should be delivering the stuff to their rooms.

“It was just an ongoing conversation and obviously, we were trying to manage all of the things that needed to be managed, but there’s a mental health aspect of people being shut down in those rooms, to people with really heavy smoking habits, not being able to go out for a cigarette, other things, as silly as somebody bought themselves a coffee machine and had it delivered.”

His company was sacked by Unified Security in early May after a complaint of sexual harassment was made against one of its staff, an allegation he said was baseless.

In the interview, Mr McLean alleges DHHS’s decision to place quarantining Cedar Meats workers in the same hotel as returning travellers was a mistake.

He said that because the Cedar Meat workers were quarantining voluntarily, they could ignore directions given to them by security guards.

He also had copies of a written direction given to them outlining their rights.

“That document basically shut down every single policy we’d put in place about safety because it basically is a voluntary quarantine policy,” he said. “So … if a quarantine guest goes to leave, my guard calls the police, they’re apprehended and arrested.

Political commentator Peta Credlin has been questioning Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews at his press conferences. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Daniel Pockett

Political commentator Peta Credlin has been questioning Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews at his press conferences.

“If a Cedar Meats work person decides they’re going to leave, we call the police, they show that document, the police can’t touch them.”

The Coate Inquiry will report in December after seeking a six-week extension last week, but Credlin is calling for a royal commission.

She spoke to lawyer Paul Hayes QC says this would serve two purposes — justice for the families and so that a catastrophe of this scale will not happen again if Australia is hit by a third or fourth wave.

In the documentary, Credlin also spoke to former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett who was scathing of the Victorian government, calling it “corrupt”. He said Andrews a “control freak” and the inquiry was a “sop”.

“I’m never going to say Victoria’s rotten but I think the government and the system of government is corrupt,” he said. “Yes you make mistakes, but the biggest mistake now is the continuing cover-up.”

Peta Credlin’s special investigation, Deadly Decisions: Victoria’s Hotel Quarantine Catastrophe, was aired on Sky News on Foxtel on Sunday.

 

Sky News Australia investigates Victoria’s deadly hotel quarantine catastrophe in this one-hour special which follows Peta Credlin as she probes how flawed decision-making led to the deaths of 800 people. WATCH VIDEO
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