Drawing on evidence from the Victorian Hotel Quarantine Inquiry, this policy brief aims is to lay the foundations for better understanding the features and limits of contracting-out, and to urge reassessment of its appropriateness in relation to government functions that carry significant consequences for public safety and security.
- The role of private security contractors in Victoria’s hotel quarantine system has been the subject of intense public interest ever since the connection between actions of the guards and Victoria’s ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 infections became apparent.
- Despite extensive efforts to ascertain who made the decision to contract-out responsibility for maintaining the quarantine system to private security guards, and why, both points remain unclear as the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry progresses to its conclusion.
- This Policy Brief sets out the sequence of events that led to this Inquiry and seeks to clarify the questions raised. It argues that we need to look beyond standard mechanisms of political accountability in order to address the structural problems posed by contracting-out high stakes government functions.