A countdown to the deadly decision that saw Victoria choose private security over Australian Defence Force personnel to run hotel quarantine has been revealed.
An inquiry into the bungled decision heard Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced private security guards would guard returning travellers - without advice from his top bureaucrat.
On Monday, Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Chris Eccles told the inquiry he did not advise the premier to use private security.
Mr Andrews went public with the scheme during a 3.20 pm press conference on March 27 - just hours after Victoria Police's chief commissioner had been advised by someone from within the Department of Premier and Cabinet that police would play second fiddle to private security guards.
Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Chris Eccles has faced the hotel inquiry in Melbourne
Private security has been accused of bungling the hotel quarantine operation and causing Victoria's deadly second wave of COVID-19
Meeting notes from March 27 where Chris Eccles appear to assume a decision has been made to employ private security at hotels. He cannot remember the meeting
It comes as the inquiry revealed Victoria's Police Minister Lisa Neville questioned the use of Australian Defence Force personnel at Victorian hotels.
'The use of the army in hotels? That was not agreed at CCc (crisis cabinet) yesterday but is that what we will be doing? And what will they be doing,’ she asked the state’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp on June 25.
In a day of drama, Mr Eccles, who was appointed secretary of the DPC in December 2014 and leads the Victorian public service in advising the premier and the entire government of Victoria, told the inquiry he had 'no recollection' of advising Mr Andrews to use private security at the hotels.
Nor did he believe anyone else from within the DPC had provided any such advice.
Quarantine breaches involving private security guards seeded 99 per cent of Victoria's deadly second wave of COVID infections, which in turn has led to more than 700 deaths of the elderly.
More than 30 security guards ended up catching coronavirus from quarantined returned travellers while working in the hotels.
After more than three weeks of sitting, the inquiry has heard not a single person can identify who made the decision to hire the private security guards, including Mr Eccles, who claimed on Monday he still doesn't know.
Mr Eccles came under fire from counsel assisting the inquiry Rachel Ellyard.
'You are probably aware in a more general sense of evidence that's been given before the board from a number of other people who were also not aware of where the decision was made and when and by whom,' she said.
'The decision to engage private security ended up employing thousands of people and costing tens of millions of dollars. Shouldn't we be able to say who made it, as a matter of proper governance?'
Mr Eccles suggested the decision was likely made by a 'collective' of government officials.
Former Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton takes on oath on the bible to tell the truth at Thursday's inquiry into Victoria's disastrous hotel quarantine program last week
Former Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton text messages his federal colleague advising that the order to use private security came from the premier's office
At the press conference, Mr Andrews said that police, private security and the government's health team would be working together at the hotels.
'We've been working on this for quite some time,' Mr Andrews said.
He further revealed 500 police working on coronavirus enforcement would be