Andrews rejects federal hotel quarantine claims
Daniel Andrews has inflamed the war of words over his government's failure to use troops in its bungled hotel quarantine program, bluntly rejecting the Defence Minister's effort to clear up the matter.
The Premier also dismissed "anonymous reporting" on Defence records which outlined how repeated offers of support had been made and declined since hotel quarantine was established on March 27.
His comments prompted a firm response from Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, who said there was "very clear evidence" of the ADF's offer to all states including Victoria.
A detailed timeline, based on internal Defence documents and reported by the Herald Sun, is now expected to be explained when ADF chiefs face a Senate committee next Tuesday.
Defence placed 100 personnel on standby in Victoria on the day national cabinet agreed to quarantine returned travellers, but private security guards were instead chosen to man Melbourne hotels, with health protocol breaches sparking the state's deadly second wave.
Mr Andrews said on Thursday that Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp had "100 per cent refuted" Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, who had explained how the ADF tried to help in Victoria.
Mr Crisp - who has not faced questions publicly for months - said in a statement that ADF representatives did not offer hotel quarantine assistance when the scheme was established.
Mr Andrews said that made sure "there was no doubt about these issues".
"Andrew Crisp put out a statement because I think it was important that he do that. That's what he did, that's a matter for him," he said.
In response, Mr Hunt said Scott Morrison had publicly offered Defence support, and that the state government agreed on the same day that the ADF "will be engaged" to set up hotel quarantine.
"Both (statements) are written, both are fundamental, and they speak for themselves," Mr Hunt said.
"There is very clear evidence on the public record."
Mr Andrews said there was "no point" raising the dispute with the Prime Minister because they were focused on "the real challenges that we face" fighting the coronavirus.
"I'll neither waste my time nor the Prime Minister's time dealing with those issues," he said.
It came as a state parliamentary inquiry was told Department of Transport representatives attended a pivotal March 27 meeting where the decision was made to use private security in quarantine hotels.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said she was informed of the meeting shortly after it finished.
Asked which minister had oversight of the quarantine program, Ms Allan said: "I have nothing to add to the comments that have been made already over the course of this week on that matter."
No ministers attended the March 27 meeting, a matter which Mr Andrews said could be considered by an independent inquiry he had ordered.
Originally published as Andrews joins war of words amid hotel quarantine chaos