The first day of the Public Accounts and Estimates Inquiry into the Victorian Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic has heard there was a significant delay to test Cedar Meats employees, again, on the sole advice of a worker who tested positive.
During questioning it was revealed that no close contacts were identified or tested for a number of days, because the original worker stated he was working in the boning room by himself. The cluster has since grown to more than 80 Victorians.
The failure by the government follows the original 2nd April case at Cedar Meats, where the government failed to enquire whether the staff member was actually at work. Still to this day, the Department has not followed up with the business to confirm if they attended work.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos was quizzed whether the Department told the management of Cedar Meats on the 27th April, that “there was no risk to the plant” despite an employee testing positive after an incident three days earlier. The Minister refused to answer the question.
Earlier in the day, the Premier was asked if he was aware if the government agreed with Cedar Meats to withhold their name as it will hurt their business and brand. The Premier deflected by saying it was a matter for the Chief Health Officer.
The Premier also refused to detail why Victorian authorities failed to notify other agencies and organisations, including Federal agriculture agencies, about the positive test – exposing other workers.
Cedar Meats had close Labor Party associations with Ministers and Senior MPs, ties as long serving members of the Labor Party and made a $15,000 donation to make Daniel Andrews Premier.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Health, Georgie Crozier:
“As each day the cluster grows, the fewer questions the Andrews Government is willing to answer.
“Delays to testing, a lack of follow-up, mixed messages to employees, potential exposure to other indirect workers and the Labor Party connections means the only way we can get to the bottom of this cluster is with an independent inquiry.”