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Hotel quarantine inquiry postponed until August 17 over COVID-19 fears


The much-anticipated inquiry into the Victorian Government’s bungled hotel quarantine program will be postponed due to Melbourne’s stage-four lockdown.

Three key medical and scientific witnesses were set to give evidence at 10am on Thursday, but Judge Jennifer Coate announced proceedings would be delayed until August 17.

“My first consideration is the safety of all those working with us and supporting us,” she announced at an emergency meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

“I am acutely aware of the community’s need to have a thorough understanding of what has happened with hotel quarantine and the ramifications it has had on all of us.”

Ms Coate said it would require significant technological work to host tomorrow’s inquiry at 10am, but did not wish to rush the process.

“I do not want an inquiry of such importance and magnitude to suffer from a less thorough process,” she said.

The inquiry’s findings will be handed down six weeks later after Premier Daniel Andrews agreed to the judge’s proposed extension.

Ms Coate said more than 166,000 documents from government departments and private entities had been gathered so far.

The State Government has been able to dodge questions about hotel quarantine, saying the matter is being probed by a judicial inquiry and is therefore inappropriate to provide commentary.

But the Premier was confident the judicial inquiry would deliver the right answers.

“I am confident that process will give us the answers that we are each entitled to,” he said.

“What has gone here is completely unacceptable to me and unacceptable to all of us but the best thing to do is to have that proper understanding of exactly what has gone on.”

The inquiry was launched by the State Government after it was revealed protocol breaches by security guards overseeing hotel quarantine had led to outbreaks in Victoria.

Retired judge Jennifer Coate is overseeing the inquiry, with senior assisting counsel Tony Neal.

At the first hearing on July 20, the inquiry heard there was evidence that many if not all of the state’s cases could be linked to the hotel outbreaks.

Victoria recorded 725 cases on Thursday, eclipsing the state’s deadliest daily total of 723 infections last week.



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