Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s boss in the Health Department has been suddenly removed from her position handling the emergency response to the pandemic amid the fallout from failures in the hotel quarantine system that has led to COVID-19 outbreaks.
Melissa Skilbeck, deputy secretary of the department, was stripped of her responsibilities in the days after Premier Daniel Andrews announced a judicial inquiry into the system which set off a chain of cases that have been largely responsible for forcing more than 300,000 Victorians back into lockdown.
Ms Skilbeck was responsible for regulation, health protection and emergency management. Deputy secretaries can earn as much as $340,000 a year. She will retain the deputy secretary position but will have her responsibilities redrawn.
Professor Sutton, the public face of the state’s pandemic response, sits directly below Ms Skilbeck in the department’s organisational structure. Unlike his counterpart in NSW, Professor Sutton is not a deputy secretary, meaning he sits three operational tiers below Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.