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  • Writer's pictureGeoff Russell

Media blood sports

"Private security contractors" ... who made the decision? Did Daniel Andrews know about it?

Australian media has been in a feeding frenzy over this decision. But why?

We have a mixed health system with public and private providers. Has any minister been forced to resign over a botched operation in a Private Hospital? "Who made the decision to use a private hospital?" Did the Premier know? Why didn't they use an army doctor? Will our Government refuse Covid-19 vaccines supplied by private contractors?

When anybody chooses an organisation to perform a function, then they should do appropriate checks on whether the organisation is fit for purpose. What counts as "appropriate" depends on the function. Are you choosing a supplier of artwork or of ventilators or of research services? Are you paying $10 dollars or a million dollars?

The planning of hotel quarantine was always known to be a job where consequences of failure could be catastrophic. Rather different from writing a blog, or a feature on political bungling for a TV news program.

Was Jenny Mikakos right to resign? Under the norms of Ministerial responsibility, yes. All too often in recent politics we have seen people stand up and claim to be accepting responsibility, but suffering no consequences. But she shouldn't resign because the hotel quarantine was handled by private contractors, but because those contractors proved to be incompetent and because her department didn't do the kinds of checks that would have uncovered this. Like checking on training regimes and staffing levels.

Do journalists resign when "facts" about a story prove false? Do they resign for not checking facts?


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