Stood down: Quarantine manager Matiu Bush
The general manager of Victoria’s hotel quarantine program who was stood down for breaching protocols previously worked on ‘designing a good death’.
Matiu Bush – who prefers to be referred to as ‘they’ or ‘them’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘him’ – was stood down on Wednesday after it emerged they refused a Covid-19 test, and failed to hand stantise or properly use face masks.
Bush began working for Victoria’s hotel quarantine program in June 2020 and became the General Manager of Infection Prevention and Control in October, following the state’s horrific second wave which killed 801 people.
The move into public service was a marked departure from the trained nurse’s previous career working for aged care companies.
While employed by home care service Bolton Clarke, Bush even worked on ‘designing a good death in residential care.’
In an online article in 2017, they wrote: ‘Death is a part of reality, and though some people may shy away from the topic – it is something everyone will have to eventually face.’
Bush travelled all over the east coast, talking to retirees, medical students, funeral directors, vets and design professionals to develop ‘a model for best practice end of life care in residential aged care communities.’
Bush’s aim was to provide ‘clear recommendations and practical, tangible strategies that will enrich the experience of residents and create exceptional end of life care.’
Later, the nurse founded One Good Street, a website to help elderly residents connect with neighbours, before taking a job with the Department of Justice and Community Safety in June 2020.
Prior to entering the aged care sector, Bush worked as an intensive care nurse and a sexual health Nurse Practitioner and did a master’s in public health.
Other incidents include contractors and bureaucrats being allowed to enter or trying to enter hotel sites in Melbourne despite not be being vaccinated, as is required
It emerged on Wednesday that Bush refused to have a Covid-19 test – which is required of all quarantine workers every day – when leaving the Intercontinental Hotel at 12.05pm on April 20.
Government incident reports obtained by The Australian newspaper stated that when an army corporal told them to get tested, they replied words to the effect of ‘I’m the head of IPC and I override that protocol’ before walking off.
Another operational incidents review said Bush and two other public servants refused to sign in using their QR codes when entering the Pullman Hotel on March 1.
The review said: ‘When signing in they were asked to sign in via their personal QR code… They refused, stating that as they have been vaccinated they are not required to do so and instead manually signed in the visitor log.’
Later that same afternoon, the same group entered the Mercure Hotel and, according to the incident review, ‘walked past the sanitising station without sanitising and also did not change masks’.
The group told reception staff they ‘had ducked out for coffee, and that the hotel is empty anyway,’ the review said.
The review also said Bush ‘did not sign out upon his departure from the hotel’.
A spokesman for Quarantine Victoria said Bush initially had been ‘counselled’ over both incidents but further action was taken on Wednesday morning.
‘Last night I become aware of reports in relation to Mr Bush and I formed the opinion overnight that Mr Bush needs to be stood down pending a review,’ Mr Pearson said.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the government had failed to learn from its mistakes. Pictured: The Holiday Inn hotel at Melbourne Airport
The government’s daily incident review documents, published in The Australian on Wednesday, also revealed a shocking series of infection control breaches by staff and nurses.
On April 15 a nurse was given a guest’s nebulizer in a box with a sign saying it was not be given to guests.
But she got on the guest’s bus from the airport and asked if they needed it during their stay.
She was told that nebulizers are not to be used because they may increase the risk of viral spread.
On April 10, at Stamford Plaza, a pathology assistant was openly vaping ‘an aloe vera substance’ in front of other Covid-19 testers, even though vaping was banned because it could set off the fire alarm of help spread viral particals.
An incident review said she twice refused to stop and ‘became very dismissive’.
The woman was also caught vaping again at 4.45pm that day while walking down the hotel corridor stairs.
The next day she was asked to leave by a manager.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt (pictured) praised the Victorian government for taking ‘swift action’ to stand down Bush
Other incidents include contractors and bureaucrats being allowed to enter or trying to enter hotel sites in Melbourne despite not be being vaccinated, as is required.
While nearly all were told to leave once their vaccination status was known, in some cases it was not checked when they entered.
Victoria’s quarantine program was overhauled after the state’s second wave, which last year resulted in more than 18,000 new infections, 800 deaths and an 112-day lockdown.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the Andrews government had failed to learn from its mistakes.
‘Every single day we see new evidence that this government still hasn’t got hotel quarantine right,’ he told reporters outside parliament on Wednesday.
‘Now all Victorians are at risk, every Victorian is exposed because this government is just incompetent, they can’t do the basics right.’