Victorian jobs department secretary Simon Phemisterhas confirmed it was his department that was responsible for procuring private security contractors for the Victorian government’s $80m hotel quarantine program, but said it was not his department that made the decision to use private security.

Speaking before the Victorian parliament’s committee overseeing the government’s response to Covid-19, Phemister said that at a 4.30pm meeting on 27 March of officials from several departments, the decision was made, based on advice “from experts” to use private security, and from that point, it was up to the jobs department to procure private security.

Contrary to media reports, jobs minister Martin Pakula said the firms were not chosen based on some need to meet a social inclusion goal. Phemister said security and health were the only concerns in choosing the firms.

Pakula also revealed at the hearing that over 21,000 international students, who aren’t eligible for any federal government payment, had received $1,100 support payments from the Victorian government, while 1,593 people had received $1,500 payments after testing positive for coronavirus while not having access to sick leave.

That is up from 1,099 last week.

The Guardian

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