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Estimates: Questions to the Qld Police Service re infection control in Qld's hotel quarantine

In Estimates Hearings on Monday 14 December 2020, I asked a series of questions about infection control in quarantine hotels.

You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: I have a question about the operation of COVID-19 hotel quarantine, which I understand QPS is running. The COVID-19 outbreaks from hotel quarantine in Victoria and South Australia have highlighted a pretty significant risk stemming from insecure work. Commissioner, can you indicate how many cleaners or any other hotel staff at Queensland's hotel quarantine hotels and the medihotels are working second or third jobs?

Commissioner Carroll: I do not know whether we will be able to get to that level of detail, but I will refer this to Assistant Commissioner Chelepy who has oversight of hotel quarantine. I want to make some opening comments. You are 100 per cent correct. When we look at the areas of highest risk at the moment it is certainly hotel quarantine. Each of the last outbreaks in New South Wales, Victoria and recently in Adelaide are the result of that. We have an extraordinary partnership with the Department of Health. We maintain infection control from when people arrive at the airport right through their time in the hotels until they leave. I know all hotels—all cleaners and people associated with those hotels—go through very strict protocols in terms of what they do there. I do not know whether we could come up with the numbers within the next couple of hours, but I will ask Assistant Commissioner Chelepy to give you some further detail if he can.

Assistant Commissioner Chelepy: In response to your question regarding cleaners, I am sorry but we will not be able to provide that. Those cleaners come under the CHO's directives. Whilst the Police Service manages the facilities at quarantine hotels and is responsible for the facilities and security overlay at the hotels, unfortunately the hotel staff are the responsibility of the respective hotels and are subject to the Chief Health Officer's directions and arrangements that are put in place by the Chief Health Officer. Our Queensland Police staff who work at the hotels are primarily rostered to a single hotel and are only moved between hotels in extraordinary circumstances.

Mr BERKMAN: I will put a follow-up question to the minister. Given from the responses that we know that hospital staff in particular but also the QPS does not have direct oversight of whether any of those cleaning staff could be working multiple jobs or under labour hire, Minister, do you view it as an acceptable risk that hotel quarantine staff could be working in multiple jobs or under those circumstances given the outbreaks we have seen in other jurisdictions in Australia?

Mr RYAN: We have not had the outbreaks here. That is because we have very robust processes. Not only has the CHO been very particular about the processes and frameworks put in place, but we have led the way when it comes to establishing best practice. There is a reason the nation looked to what Queensland was doing. We had highly trained professionals doing the security overlays at the hotels—that is, the Queensland Police Service. It has been a particularly robust security overlay, but that is for good reason. Those strong processes around hotels and the borders have saved lives. They have stopped the spread of COVID and kept the community safe. I think the results speak for themselves. Obviously, it does require everyone to take this seriously. The role that the Queensland Police Service has taken in ensuring the security overlay is robust has delivered results. I am very grateful that they have taken it very seriously and led the way.

Mr BERKMAN: If I could divert very slightly from that line of questioning, I think this is a question for the commissioner. I am curious to know what powers if any Queensland Health or hospital and
health service staff have to direct QPS officers on matters and procedures at hotel quarantine hotels and medihotels around things like infection control that clearly fall within QH's expertise?

Commissioner Carroll: It is under legislation and the CHO's directives. I will again refer to Shane for the exact details.

Assistant Commissioner Chelepy: We operate the hotels under the CHO's directions. All the Queensland Police Service members who are working there are also authorised officers under the Public Health Act as an emergency officer general. We take our authority under the Public Health Act. When we deliver our hotel quarantine services we are there to support Queensland Health in the infection control and clinical control processes. In all those processes Queensland Health are engaged with infection control training. They have contributed to our infection control training packages and our PPE packages for police. Queensland Health provide briefings and instruction to officers on the correct way to use PPE and infection control measures in the way that the hotels operate. I know that they provide that to other agencies and all other people working in those facilities.

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  • Esther Vale
    published this page in In Parliament 2021-01-07 10:35:15 +1000