“I used to be shocked after I was knowledgeable final evening that this name had been made and detailed examination of his information had proven that,” Mr Andrews advised reporters on Monday.
The Premier revealed Mr Eccles was in a gathering the place the federal government was knowledgeable that 99 per cent of Victoria’s second wave instances may very well be traced again to breaches within the resort quarantine program.
“He was within the assembly the place we acquired the genomic sequencing from the Chief Well being Officer and there have been many questions and I could not get solutions to these questions, and that’s precisely why I charged him with establishing the board of inquiry,” Mr Andrews mentioned.
The Premier mentioned Mr Eccles’ resignation was a “vital growth” however the public service was greater than one individual.
On Sunday the resort quarantine inquiry requested Mr Eccles and different senior Division of Premier and Cupboard officers handy over their telephone information to find out whether or not they known as Mr Ashton on March 27, the day that it was determined personal safety would guard returned travellers in Melbourne’s quarantine resorts.
The inquiry’s request got here after Mr Andrews confronted a sequence of questions on his telephone information on Friday.
Mr Eccles, who advised the inquiry on September 21 he didn’t recall whether or not he phoned Mr Ashton, mentioned in a press release on Monday morning that his telephone information confirmed he had phoned Mr Ashton at 1.17pm on March 27 and spoke to him for 2 minutes.
Nationwide cupboard, which Mr Eccles attended alongside the Premier, met till about 1pm because it determined a resort quarantine program could be arrange.
After that decision Mr Ashton despatched a textual content message to Australian Federal Police chief Reece Kershaw at 1.22pm, saying a plan had been arrange by Mr Eccles’ Division of Premier and Cupboard (DPC) to make use of personal guards.
Nevertheless, Mr Eccles stays adamant that he didn’t inform Mr Ashton that non-public safety could be used.
“The phone information don’t in any means display that I, or certainly anybody else in DPC decided that non-public safety be used within the resort quarantine program,” Mr Eccles mentioned.
“I’m completely sure I didn’t convey to Mr Ashton any determination concerning using personal safety as I used to be unaware any such determination had been made, and I most actually had not made such a choice myself.
“There was a lot commentary and hypothesis about whether or not I or anybody else at DPC spoke to Mr Ashton throughout that slender timeframe on March 27. It’s now evident I did.
“Finally the Board will make its conclusions concerning the issues earlier than it. Nevertheless, within the circumstances and with the heightened degree of concentrate on this difficulty, I are not looking for a concentrate on me to in any means undermine the extraordinary work of the general public sector because it continues to answer the unprecedented challenges of 2020.”
Shadow attorney-general Ed O’Donohue mentioned Mr Eccles’ resignation, two weeks after former well being minister Jenny Mikakos stepped down, confirmed the controversy and culpability across the resorts scheme was steadily shifting nearer to the Premier.
“With these closest to Daniel Andrews being pressured to resign, increasingly his story merely doesn’t add up,” Mr O’Donohue mentioned.
“It’s now incumbent on the Premier to clarify once more precisely what he knew and when, and hopefully this time he doesn’t have a extreme bout of amnesia.”
In response to questions from the lawyer for Victoria Police, Dan Star QC, Mr Eccles advised the inquiry he had checked his telephone information, which he mentioned weren’t full, to find out if he known as Mr Ashton again.
“It would not reveal a – my telephone information do not reveal the contact,” Mr Eccles mentioned. “I am unsure how full my telephone information are. However to the extent that I used to be in a position to interrogate my telephone information, they did not reveal that contact,” Mr Eccles mentioned.
Mr Eccles’ assertion on Monday reveals this name did happen. Mr Eccles mentioned within the assertion that underneath cross-examination he offered a solution about his interactions with Mr Ashton that “was inconsistent with the totality of my proof and the which means I used to be meaning to convey”.
“This was not my intention, as I imagine was made very clear by my written assertion and additional oral proof. On the time I gave proof I didn’t have in my possession my full phone information,” he wrote.
The resort inquiry additionally heard Mr Eccles failed to tell Mr Andrews about an April provide from Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s division for Australian Defence Power assist at resorts.
In his second assertion to the inquiry, dated September 16, Mr Eccles mentioned he didn’t have a duplicate of Mr Ashton’s textual content on his telephone and “I don’t now recall what, if something, I did in response to that textual content message”.
“No determination was made by me nor, so far as I’m conscious, another individual inside DPC, to interact personal safety to be used within the resort quarantine program,” Mr Eccles mentioned within the assertion.
“Accordingly, whereas I don’t recall if I known as Mr Ashton after receipt of his textual content message … If I had accomplished so I’d not have (and wouldn’t have been in a position to) convey any determination about using personal safety as no such determination had been made by me or anybody to whom I had spoken.”
Mr Eccles, who sometimes referred to himself as “Mr Wolf” after the Pulp Fiction character, thanked Mr Andrews for permitting him to function the top of his division.
“I wish to thank the Premier for essentially the most fast privilege of serving his authorities and the individuals of Victoria,” he mentioned.
“I’ve taken this determination with a way of readability that to stay on this place could be a big distraction to the continued work of the Victorian public sector and the residents of our state as we enter a vital section of easing COVID-19 restrictions.”
Paul is a reporter for The Age.
Michael is a state political reporter for The Age.
Tammy Mills is the authorized affairs reporter for The Age.