Victoria’s decision to deploy security officers paid barely award rates, and in some cases, cash in hand, has shocked Victoria, after a decision set to cost the Australian economy $3 billion.

According to security officers involved in handling security and general access control at the quarantine hotels, there was PPE, no training, 5-minute carpark induction, no COVID procedures and in some cases, officers were not told residents of the quarantine hotels were in COVID-19 isolation.

Unsurprisingly, low paid security officers must have multiple jobs in order to survive – many left quarantine hotels to drive ride share and undertake other roles that exposed them to the wider public. None of this should surprise anyone with experience of the manpower security industry – or its customers.

It’s been claimed security companies did not use regular officers but instead contracted staff on lower rates of pay specifically for the task – this is a practise widely used by organisations hiring additional security officers (and in some cases security technicians), as it allows suppliers to prise margin out of an inadequate budget.

A $3 million enquiry being conducted into the affair has been told there may be a link between failures in the quarantine hotels in Victoria and almost all COVID-19 cases in a deadly second wave playing out across Victoria and NSW – though the allegation this has anything to do with security officers remains unproven.

“Information already available to the inquiry suggests the possibility of a link between many of the cases of coronavirus identified in the Victorian community in the past few weeks, and persons who were quarantined under the hotel quarantine programme,” senior assisting counsel Tony Neal said.

“Comments made by the chief health officer to the media have suggested that it might even be that every case of COVID-19 in Victoria in recent weeks, could be sourced to the hotel quarantine programme.”

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