Friday March 27th.
Noon National cabinet decides to enforce mandatory quarantine for international arrivals in Australia.
1:16 p.m. Victoria Police Commissioner at the time, Graham Ashton, writes to the Victorian Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary Chris Eccles.
1:19 p.m. Text from an unnamed member of the Prime Minister’s private office to Deputy Secretary Tim Ada of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet. “In addition to transportation, we’re going to need something about food and safety for people in hotels … Premier will get up at 3pm, so any clarification about whether we can go until then from tonight would be great.”
1:22 p.m. Ashton writes to AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw: “Buddy, my advice [sic] is that ADF will handle passenger transfers and private security will be used. ”
1:32 p.m. Ashton to Kershaw: “I think that’s the deal our DPC made [Department of Premier and Cabinet]. I understand NSW will be a different arrangement. I spoke to Mick F. [NSW Police Commissioner, Mick Fuller]. „
Tuesday, September 8th
Eccles’ first explanation of the investigation in response to whether he was involved in any communication with Victoria Police about hotel quarantine: “No, I do not remember any such communications.”
Wednesday September 16
Eccles makes a second statement after the investigation “I have become aware of certain matters and documents”. This happens the day before Ashton was due to testify, and after Ashton made his statement on the investigation, which included the text he sent to Eccles.
Eccles said he didn’t have a copy of Ashton’s text on his cell phone and “I don’t remember now what, if anything, I did in response to this text message.”.
“Accordingly, although I don’t remember calling Mr. Ashton after receiving his text message … If I had, I would not have had a decision about using private security as transmitted (and neither could I have) myself or anyone, I had spoken to made no such decision. “
Thursday 17th September
Ashton tells the investigation that he does not remember Eccles responding to his March 27 text: “No, I don’t remember getting an answer from Chris. I don’t remember getting an answer from him. “
About his text about a “deal made by our DPC”: “That is the level of knowledge that I obviously had at that point. I don’t remember where I got it or who I got it from. “
Monday, September 21
Eccles fronts request. Cross-examination by Victoria Police Attorney Dan Star QC.
Friday October 9th
When asked if he would hand over his telephone recordings in his daily press conference, Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said, “If a request has been made, of course.”
Monday October 12th
Eccles resigns. In his statement he said: “At the request of the committee of inquiry on Saturday, October 10, 2020, I requested detailed telephone recordings from my telecommunications provider. These records show that I called Mr. Ashton at 1:17 pm and spoke to him for a little over two minutes. “
Tammy Mills is the legal reporter for The Age.
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