EXCLUSIVE: It was the security firm awarded almost $50 million despite having under 40 full time staff in Victoria and now at the centre of an inquiry after its poorly trained subcontracted guards helped cause a second wave of COVID, leading to hundreds of deaths and forcing Melbourne into a months-long lockdown. Now for the first time, the public can view the contract which Victoria’s Premier Dan Andrews signed with Unified Security in its entirety. Serkan Ozturk reports.
Victoria’s Premier Dan Andrews and senior members of his government and bureaucracy continue to refuse to be drawn into the details of how Unified Security – a Sydney based security company with minimal presence in Victoria and with less than 40 full time staff in Melbourne – was chosen as the state’s first line of defence for its COVID hotel quarantine program.
The state’s hotel quarantine system is this week at the centre of an inquiry after it was identified that Victoria’s second wave of a COVID-19 outbreak this year can solely be blamed on the program. As of today, Victoria has recorded almost 750 deaths attributed to COVID, with the overwhelming majority having taken place during the second outbreak.
With politicians – no matter what their ideological leanings – doing what they do best and hiding important things from the public, it seems it’s once again left up to a hapless hacky news website such as True Crime News Weekly to help illuminate matters at least a little.
Because just as luck would have it, a leaked copy of the entire contract the Victorian Government signed with Unified Security has fallen our way. Apart from a few redactions, the public can now view for themselves the benchmarks set out for the failed hotel quarantine program.
The contract believed to be worth $44 million saw Unified Security become one of three businesses – along with Wilson Security and MSS Security – employed by the Victorian Government’s Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions to operate and manage its hotel quarantine program.
The decision to have private security firms do the major lifting in the program has resulted in the companies being forced to subcontract thousands of new employees. It is believed Unified Security subcontracted about 1,700 staff so it could manage its workload of managing the security at 13 hotels being used for quarantine.
According to the contract, Unified Security was notified it “must not engage subcontractors to conduct the whole or any part of the Services without the prior written approval of the Department”.
If the Department gave written approval for the use of subcontractors, the contract then states Unified Security is “full responsible for all acts and omissions of its subcontractors as if they were the acts or omissions of the Service Provider … and carrying out the Services and complying with all obligations under this Agreement”.
According to terms of the signed agreement, Unified Security could be terminated from its role in the hotel quarantine program within one week.
“The Department may at any time, upon giving seven (7) days’ notice in writing to the Service Provider, terminate the Agreement or reduce the scope of Services to be provided under this Agreement,” the contract reads.
And yet, here we now are.