Developments late last week confirm that the Victorian government — including Premier Daniel Andrews — is under investigation for indictable criminal offences. The investigation by WorkSafe Victoria relates to the failed hotel quarantine program of 2020 and alleged breaches of health and safety laws.
In September last year, Self Employed Australia wrote to WorkSafe. We issued requests for prosecutions to be brought against the Victorian government and several individuals over the hotel quarantine program that resulted in alleged 801 deaths from Covid-19 last year. Our campaign summary and key details are here.
Late last week, on March 4, we received a letter from WorkSafe Victoria confirming again that WorkSafe is investigating breaches of work health and safety laws related to the hotel quarantine program. This is significant. Here are the core facts.
The WorkSafe letter says, “I refer to your request for WorkSafe Victoria to bring prosecutions against various individuals and entities associated with the Covid-19 Hotel Quarantine Program. Please be advised that Worksafe’s investigation is still ongoing.”
This is the clearest confirmation from WorkSafe of an investigation. Further, it confirms that the investigation is occurring because of our correspondence to WorkSafe. Our key letter of 29 September 2020 uses section 131 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. That Section requires WorkSafe to investigate alleged work safety breaches when requested.
In our letter of 29 September, we identified 142 breaches of the work safety laws. All 142 offences we identified are indictable criminal offences.
We named 20 individuals and 6 entities as requiring investigation.
This includes the Premier and three ministers, the Chief Health Officer and 15 other heads of departments/agencies, the State of Victoria and four departments/agencies and Victorian Trades Hall Council.
The full list of individuals and entities is in our correspondence of 29 September is here.
The significance of the WorkSafe letter of 4 March is that it confirms that the named individuals and entities are being investigated for indictable criminal offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The processes and procedures that are required under the Act impose obligations on WorkSafe. WorkSafe must complete its investigation in a timely manner. It must investigate each of the 142 alleged breaches against each of the 20 individuals and 6 entities. The Authority must write to us informing us of their decision to prosecute or not on each of the 142 alleged breaches.
If WorkSafe decides not to prosecute or it has not brought a prosecution by late June (nine months from the date of our September 2020 letter) the matter/s must be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions on our request.
Further, the Director of Public Prosecutions must consider the matter/s and advise WorkSafe whether a prosecution should be bought. We must receive a copy of this advice and if WorkSafe declines to follow the DPP’s advice, it must provide us with written advice for its decision.
The four key documents that paint the full picture are as follows: Section 131 of the Act, the relevant indictable criminal offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, our letter to WorkSafe 29 September 2020 and the WorkSafe letter to us of March 4 2021.
Neither Self Employed Australia nor The Spectator Australia is suggesting that because an “individuals and entities” investigation is underway that the politicians and public servants are guilty.
We shall continue to pursue this vital issue. It is important that in a just and fair society where the rule of law applies, that no–one is above the law, including the government. 801 deaths cannot be ignored or forgotten and must be investigated to ensure that all Victorians and Australians are kept safe.
Ken Phillips is Executive Director of Self Employed Australia.
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