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Melbourne Quarantine Security Alleged Issues

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look: 25 July 2020

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A guest and staff at Rydges Hotel in Carlton in April.CREDIT:PENNY STEPHENS

Claims of negligence and mishandling in the security industry.

Security (Health) // BLUF: A man subcontracted to a Melbourne-based security company has come forward to The Age and Sydney Morning Herald alleging several claims around the hotel quarantine issues that have cast a negative shadow on the security industry in Victoria.

Allegations lack of hygiene provisions, information about the state of people being guarded, poor pay rates and being forced to sign confidentiality agreements were raised.

The mishandling of hotel quarantine security in Victoria was initially brought to public attention after it was revealed that security guards had engaged in sexual activity with individuals being held in quarantine.

Allegations of negligence are likely to continue in the coming weeks.

(See Point 5 Below for Further Information)

The Daily Quick-Look for 25 July 2020

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look is your at-a-glance look at several key events and situations around the world over the last 24 hours. Each headline contains the link to its source report.

BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front.

FYSA = For Your Situational Awareness.

1. MEXICO - Political: Mexico City outlaws gay conversion therapy

FYSA: Mexico City’s regional congress on Friday approved a bill to criminalize gay conversion therapy, in a step hailed as a major victory for Mexico’s gay and lesbian community. Methods applied by proponents of conversion therapy to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity have ranged from psychological counseling to religious instruction and even electroshock therapy. The practice has become widely discredited in recent years. In a virtual session, Mexico City’s lawmakers passed the bill, which received broad cross-party support. Conversion therapy providers now face up to five years in prison, with higher sentences for those who subject minors to the practice. Under the new law, conversion therapy is defined as psychological or psychiatric measures or treatments which intend to “nullify, hinder, modify or undermine” the expression of a person’s gender identity or their sexual orientation. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

2. TURKEY - Political: Erdogan joins thousands to pray for first time at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia

FYSA: Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan joined huge crowds on Friday for the first prayers at Hagia Sophia in nine decades, sealing his ambition to restore Muslim worship at an ancient site long revered in both Christianity and Islam. After the call to prayer rang out from four minarets surrounding the mosque, whose rose-pink walls and huge grey dome have dominated Istanbul since Christian Byzantine times, hundreds knelt in prayer inside the building. Outside, tens of thousands more prayed in a public square and on sidewalks, squeezing into spaces between cars or in cafes, joining a ceremony which many saw as righting a historic mistake when the mosque was converted to a museum in 1934 by modern Turkey’s secularist founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world for 900 years until its capture by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453, after which it was one of Islam’s most exalted mosques for nearly another 500 years. “This is the opening of a place of worship that was conquered by the right of the sword by the holy conqueror,” said worshipper Latif Ozer, 42. “This is a source of great pride for us, great excitement.” (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

3. CHINA, UNITED STATES - Security/Political: China orders U.S. Chengdu consulate shut; protesters jeer Houston closure

FYSA: China on Friday ordered the United States to close its consulate in Chengdu in response to a U.S. order for China to shut its Houston consulate, where staff packed up belongings watched by jeering protesters amid a sharp deterioration in relations between the world’s two largest economies. The order to close the consulate in Chengdu, a city in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, continued Beijing’s recent practice of like-for-like responses to Washington’s actions. Beijing had threatened retaliation after the Trump administration this week gave it 72 hours - until 4 p.m. on Friday - to vacate its consulate in the Texas city, and had urged the United States to reconsider. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday the consulate had been “a hub of spying and intellectual property theft.” Washington and its allies must use “more creative and assertive ways” to press the Chinese Communist Party to change its ways, he said. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

4. NORTH KOREA - Economic: More than 40 countries accuse North Korea of breaching U.N. sanctions

FYSA: More than 40 countries accused North Korea on Friday of illicitly breaching a United Nations cap on refined petroleum imports and called for an immediate halt to deliveries until the end of the year, according to a complaint seen by Reuters. The 15-member U.N. Security Council imposed an annual cap of 500,000 barrels in December 2017 in a bid to cut off fuel for North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. But in a complaint to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, 43 countries - including the United States, Britain and France - said they estimated that in the first five months of this year Pyongyang had imported more than 1.6 million barrels of refined petroleum via 56 illicit tanker deliveries. The complaint said North Korean vessels continue to conduct ship-to-ship transfers at sea “on a regular basis as the DPRK’s primary means of importing refined petroleum.” North Korea’s formal name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

5. AUSTRALIA - Security (Health): Hotel quarantine security done on the cheap via subcontractors, says guard

FYSA: A security guard working at Melbourne’s quarantine hotels has said he received no training, that guards were paid as little as $18 per hour in cash, had no alcohol-based hand sanitiser on one job, and were forced to sign confidentiality agreements to prevent them discussing what they saw.The man, whom The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have agreed not to name, worked for a subcontractor called Sterling Security Group, which was engaged by one of the government’s main contractors, Sydney firm Unified Security. Unified was one of the three security firms awarded contracts at short notice by the Victorian government to guard returned international travellers in quarantine inside hotels. The guard was hired over the WhatsApp messaging platform by Sterling Security Group. He told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that he was paid between $18 and $24 per hour, sometimes in cash, and was not informed that some of the people he was guarding were infected. The guard claimed no alcohol-based sanitiser was available at one hotel job and one of his jobs was to accompany potentially infected people onto the hotel roof for exercise. (SMH. See link in heading for further reading)

6. NEW ZEALAND - Political: Hamilton isolation hotel dash: Teens accused of fleeing appear in court, were trying to get to dad's funeral

FYSA: The teenagers who allegedly fled an isolation hotel with their mother were trying to get to their father's funeral, a court has heard. But the family were arrested and charged, and faced court as their father's funeral went ahead in Auckland. The court heard the family had fundraised in Australia, where they had lived for a long time, to fly back to New Zealand to attend the funeral. Four of the family members have now been provided with the opportunity to view the funeral by video link. The 37-year-old mother who allegedly fled the Distinction Hotel with her children has appeared in Hamilton District Court via video link, wearing a face mask, today. The woman cannot be named to protect the identity of her children, two of whom are minors. The children charged alongside her are aged 18, 17 and 16. A 12-year-old who also escaped did not face charges. Judge Noel Cocurullo granted the woman, a resident of Brisbane, bail. The woman was bailed to a managed isolation facility in Auckland. He extended his sympathies to the woman over the death but slammed her behaviour for potentially putting New Zealanders at risk of Covid-19. (NZH. See link in heading for further reading)

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