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Coronavirus: Victorian health chief ‘agnostic’ over Cedar Meats case

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

PAEC Deputy Chair and Liberal MP Richard Riordan — who represents the rural seat of Polwarth, in Victoria’s southwest — expressed scepticism.

“Excuse me, Professor Sutton, I don't know whether you've been in a boning room. I've got the largest one in Victoria I think in my electorate. I'm a regular visitor,” Mr Riordan said.

“You cannot be in a boning room by yourself. It is a room of up to, you know, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 people at very close quarters.

“We know internationally boning rooms and meat processing plants have been problematic.

“How could anyone for a minute not think that they would need to contact work colleagues of the people in the boning room?”

Professor Sutton conceded he had not personally spoken to the April 24 worker.

“But the contact tracers will go through a very rigorous and standard process of interviewing individuals who've been identified as positive,” he said.

Pressed on why the contact tracers had not asked questions about other people in the boning room, Professor Sutton said: “You can't give information, private medical information about a confirmed case with a disease.”

Mr Riordan hit back: “Well in a democracy we don’t tend to lock everybody up and tell them to stay home and close businesses. These are extraordinary times,” he said.

“I think most people in a workplace, particularly a boning room workplace, would expect to be contacted.”

Professor Sutton responded: “That individual was spoken to. He identified working separately from others in the boning room on a machine that was separate to his colleagues,” he said.

Mr Riordan said it was impossible to be in isolation in a boning room.

“We're getting fobbed off with this bureaucratic rhetoric,” he said.

“We’re told we have virus detectives, and the people of Victoria need to know that those virus detectives aren’t just taking everything on face value, and quite frankly, on face value, a boning room is an obvious spot to test fellow workers.”


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