Guard raised quarantine concerns

Standby Security managing director Angelo Kakouros.

By Luke Voogt

A Geelong security director warned a firm embroiled in Victoria’s bungled hotel quarantine program of safety concerns prior to declining a contract, he told the Independent this week.

Authorities have linked breaches from hotel quarantine for returned travellers to the second wave of COVID-19 currently gripping Victoria.

Standby Security managing director Angelo Kakouros said a security company consultant phoned him to offer his company work guarding Melbourne hotels used to quarantine returned travellers.

But Mr Kakouros declined when the consultant failed to answer his questions about COVID-19 protocols and personal protective equipment (PPE), he said.

“That in itself raised alarm bells,” the Geelong local said.

“I was not convinced that there were adequate safety measures put in place to provide a safe environment for our guards and the community.

Mr Kakouros said he warned the consultant of a lack of planning and safety equipment.

“When I raised all these things with them, they didn’t want to hear about it.”

Mr Kakouros said he got the impression the company was more interested in saving money than safety.

“There’s no way in the world our guards could have been paid correctly for the amount of money they were offering,” he said.

Returned travellers began arriving at Tullamarine Airport from midnight on March 28, little more than 24 hours after national cabinet approved the hotel quarantines.

The state government has confirmed it bypassed the usual tender process hiring large security companies MSS, Unified and Wilson to guard hotels for returned travellers in quarantine, citing urgency.

The government this week ordered a judicial inquiry into the program to investigate allegations of under-trained and under-paid staff, inadequate PPE and billing rorts by private security contractors.

Mr Kakouros said the inquiry should be “no different to a forensic investigation”, examining every single subcontractor and employee involved.

Local opposition MP Bev McArthur last week called for Police Minister Lisa Neville and Health Minister Jenny Mikakos to resign over the matter.

A government spokesperson said, “A judicial inquiry has been established at arm’s length from government to examine issues relating to hotel quarantine.

“We will let the inquiry do its work – our focus remains on containing this virus.”

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