The decision to increase crowd capacity at the Australian Open wasn’t based on health advice, according to Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton.
He said the decision to lift crowd numbers at the Open, previously capped at 50 per cent when it began and to 80 per cent for the finals, was made by Health Minister Martin Foley alone.
Professor Sutton faced a barrage of questions in the first public hearing of the Pandemic Declaration Accountability and Oversight Committee on Monday.
The committee was created as part of the controversial pandemic laws that passed parliament last year, passing on power for health measures to the government and away from Prof Sutton.
The first 10 minutes of the two-hour long hearing was spent debating why Prof Sutton had dialled into the meeting instead of attending in person.
Once it was underway, Prof Sutton confirmed he didn’t provide a recommendation for or against increasing the Australian Open crowd.
He said the decision was instead made by the Health Minister, which he said the Pandemic Bill explicitly gave the ability to have broader decisions without health advice.
Prof Sutton said he did not provide official advice in relation to the cancellation of elective surgery or putting IVF on hold either, because it was not his job.
His job was instead to discuss public health issues and manage COVID-19 within Victoria.
He said he had also not been requested to provide advice in relation to putting in place a mandate that requires Victorians to receive a third dose of the vaccine.