Victoria police by no means formally requested Telstra present ex-police chief Graham Ashton’s cellphone data to assist the resort quarantine inquiry uncover who made the choice to make use of personal safety guards within the botched program, Guardian Australia can reveal.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Victoria police advised Guardian Australia that police “did contact Telstra and request incoming name information for the previous chief commissioner’s cellphone”.
Telstra on Friday, nonetheless, disputed the police’s account and denied a proper request was made.
“I can affirm that we didn’t obtain any formal requests for info,” a Telstra spokesperson advised Guardian Australia.
A Victoria police spokeswoman stated police had “cooperated totally and transparently with the inquiry”.
“Because it stays underway it could not be applicable for us to remark additional presently.”
The cellphone data are thought-about essential within the inquiry’s investigation to find out who made the choice on 27 March to make use of personal safety guards in this system.
The inquiry heard the then-Victoria police commissioner, Ashton, knew earlier than this system was introduced by the prime minister at 2.15pm that day that safety guards could be there to protect returning travellers.
In textual content messages from Ashton to the Australian Federal Police commissioner, Reece Kershaw, at 1.12pm on the day this system was introduced, Ashton stated: “Mate. Query. Why wouldn’t AFP Guard folks on the Resort??”
Then 4 minutes later he texted the pinnacle of the Victorian Division of Premier and Cupboard, Chris Eccles, about whether or not police could be guarding company.
Six minutes later, at 1.22pm, Ashton texted Kershaw once more saying he now knew “personal safety will probably be used”.
Ashton alleged on the inquiry he had been unable to recollect how he realized personal safety could be used, and Victoria police has claimed it could not obtain the incoming call records from Telstra beneath information retention laws, which could reveal who Ashton had spoken to.
“Victoria police has gone to nice lengths to cooperate totally with the inquiry as we perceive the important significance of its work. Victoria police did contact Telstra and request incoming name information for the previous chief commissioner’s cellphone however they suggested appropriately that beneath the Telecommunications (Interception and Entry) Act 1979 they’re unable to supply that information until it pertains to a prison investigation or lacking particular person investigation,” a spokesperson stated.
Underneath the Act, requests for the information should be made in writing or digital type, and signed by an authorised officer. Following inquiries from Guardian Australia on the matter this week, Telstra stated no such formal request was made.
It comes after premier Daniel Andrews confronted questions over whether or not the inquiry had sufficient powers to research this info hole. He advised Sky Information host Peta Credlin on the each day press convention on Friday that the inquiry had not sought extra powers to acquire Ashton’s cellphone data.
When requested whether or not Andrews and his workers or ministers could be keen at hand over their very own cellphone data, the premier stated the inquiry had not sought them.
“At any level the place this inquiry has sought extra from the federal government, the reply has been ‘sure’,” he stated.
The counsel helping the inquiry has steered the choice to make use of personal safety guards was not a call in any respect, as an alternative a “creeping assumption” by these creating this system all through the course of the day on 27 March.
Various closing submissions to the inquiry have challenged this idea, pointing to the six-minute hole in Ashton’s proof.
Attorneys representing Rydges Resort, one of many two outbreak motels, advised the inquiry the cellphone data must be obtained.
“With out interrogating the community supplier’s data of all incoming and outgoing landline and cellular phone calls of Mr Ashton, Mr Eccles and people working with them in that brief time frame on the afternoon of 27 March 2020, the chair couldn’t probably conclude there was merely a ‘creeping assumption’.
“Mr Ashton’s contemporaneous textual content message, which must be most popular to his lack of recollection within the witness field, signifies that the choice in reality got here from inside DPC. A ‘creeping assumption’ takes time to type – it doesn’t type in six minutes.”
Former well being minister Jenny Mikakos stated the choice couldn’t be a “creeping assumption” because of the prices concerned within the resort quarantine program.
“This choice had substantial price and useful resource implications for the state and it’s inherently unlikely, if not implausible, that such a call could be the results of a ‘creeping assumption’ relatively than a thought-about selection at an elevated stage of presidency,” she stated.
“That can also be the one cogent rationalization for the contemporaneous textual content messages of Ashton, which described the appointment of personal safety as a ‘deal arrange’ by the Division of Premier and Cupboard.”
Andrews has stated he’ll reply all questions surrounding the inquiry as soon as its report is handed down on 6 November.