We need to ask: Is WorkSafe Victoria grossly incompetent or is something else going on?
Yesterday, June 29, 2021 was the deadline for Victorian WorkSafe to reply to us at Self Employed Australia. as to whether they are prosecuting the Victorian Government over the hotel quarantine deaths scandal. Their reply? We need more time, they pleaded.
Here’s their letter. It’s a shocker. Talk about bureaucratic ‘we’re doing a good job but its complex’ spin.
Let’s look at the facts. It’s now 15 months since the hotel quarantine (deaths) program started. It’s some 12 months since WorkSafe claim they started investigating. It’s nine months since we wrote to WorkSafe triggering provisions in the Work Safety Act requiring them to investigate (here’s our Sept 2020 ‘trigger’ letter).
We’re dealing with the largest mass deaths in Victoria’s history from one event. WorkSafe’s performance on this displays gross incompetence at minimum. Or is this a cover-up? Are WorkSafe manoeuvring to protect people?
Consider this: WorkSafe have admitted that a prosecution must be bought within two years. Therefore if WorkSafe delay, can they claim the two years is up in March next year? Then no prosecution occurs? Can WorkSafe kill off justice by just doing nothing?
Why did it take WorkSafe three to four months to even start an investigation? Is it incompetence or something else?
We’re not waiting. WorkSafe were required by law to reply to us yesterday. They did this at the last moment. They seem to only do what they are forced to do.
We’ve replied to WorkSafe today triggering additional requirements under the Work Safety laws for WorkSafe to refer their investigation to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The DPP then must review WorkSafe’s investigation files and recommend whether WorkSafe prosecute. Now, will the DPP step up to the job? The clock is ticking.
This is the most critical test that the work safety and justice system in Victoria has ever faced. Are these authorities putting some people above the law? No one should be above the law.
WorkSafe are failing this test. What will the DPP do?
This is about justice for the 801 people who died, their families, friends and the people of Victoria. It’s about the integrity of the Work Safety and justice system in Victoria.
We’re not going to let go. We’re not going to be conned by the tripe, spin and ‘nothing to see here’ approach of WorkSafe Victoria. This campaign has only just begun.
Ken Phillips is Executive Director of Self Employed Australia.
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