New documents reveal that the Andrews Labor Government failed to properly fund Professor Sutton’s public health response team just months before Victoria’s first COVID case.
An internal review, obtained by the Liberal Nationals under Freedom of Information, concluded that “current numbers of PHOs (Public Health Officers) in Victoria appear to be much lower than other jurisdictions across Australia which may have a negative effect on reputation and public health risk.”
The review, titled Victoria’s Communicable Disease Prevention & Control (CDPC) Staffing and Workload illustrates the failure of the Andrews Labor Government to take seriously the threat of diseases and pandemics – a failure that has cost Victoria dearly.
Calling on the Andrews Labor Government to make quick and appropriate changes, the review states “there have been a number of attempts since 2014 to highlight to senior management the ever-increasing workload within the CDPC unit.”
The Andrews Government only funded 28 per cent of the staffing request, and then savagely cut it months later.
Of the five recommendations, two were not redacted in the version provided to the Liberal Nationals. These two recommendations were:
That the Department immediately fund an additional 2.8 FTE Public Health Officers within the CDPC. This would bring the public health team from 14.0 FTE to a minimum of 16.8 FTE at the time of the review.
That an additional 7.2 FTE PHOs be funded over the next 12-month period.
Even if both of these recommendations had been implemented, the Department’s public health response team would have been woefully inadequate as Victoria prepared to face the dangers of COVID-19 with a workforce less than a quarter of the size of the Premier’s Private Office.
The Andrews Labor Government has continued to keep secret other information in the released document, which is now subject to an appeal at OVIC.
This is a slap in the face for Victorians, especially given that Victorian taxpayers have forked out more than $770,000 to pay for Daniel Andrews’ Facebook advertising alone.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Health, Georgie Crozier:
“Clearly, the Premier and his ministers do not want Victorians to know how underprepared Victoria was for the COVID-19 pandemic and the failure of a fit for purpose public health system.
”Daniel Andrews has an army in his own office to promote his image, but he refused to hire workers where it was really necessary, to keep the public safe.
“The fact that Daniel Andrews had a choice to use taxpayer funds to support Professor Sutton’s health team and instead used that same amount to buy Facebook friends shows where his priorities lie.”