Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett has slammed a move to set up a royal commission into Crown Casino and not the state’s failed hotel quarantine scheme, saying the democratic processes in Victoria have “never been lower”.
Mr Kennett said he “could not understand” how the families of the 801 Victorians who died as a result of hotel quarantine failings were “still waiting for answers”.
“It’s baffling – So there’s still no royal commission into hotel quarantine, which is absolutely justified given the number of deaths,” he said.
“Daniel Andrews clearly wasn’t prepared to put him and his team under scrutiny,” Mr Kennett said.
“The very fact he and his ministers and officials all get up there and claim loss of memory in front of an inquiry is very clear indication that the inquiry was established to give a result that would not pin blame onto the Premier.
“It’s another indication of the standards of this government – the democratic processes have slipped, they’ve never been lower.”
The Victorian government announced the official probe into Crown Resorts’ suitability to hold a gaming licence for its Melbourne casino on Monday.
It comes in the wake of damning findings from the NSW regulator’s money laundering inquiry, and will be overseen by former Federal Court judge and senior barrister Raymond Finkelstein.
The NSW inquiry found the gambling giant unsuitable to hold the gaming licence for its new venue at Barangaroo in Sydney on the back of evidence that organised crime-linked money laundering occurred at Crown Melbourne and Perth.
Mr Kennett said a royal commission into the Melbourne venue should have been called much earlier.
“I found it amazing that once a number of Crown staff were imprisoned in China that at that point someone didn’t care to say what‘s going on here,” he said.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the probe was about making sure casino licence holders in Victoria were accountable for their actions.
“Establishing a royal commission will ensure the most appropriate access to information regarding Crown Melbourne’s suitability to hold the casino licence given the commission’s powers to compel witnesses and documentation,” he said on Monday.
The findings will be handed down by August 1.