In late September this year, efforts to require WorkSafe Victoria to prosecute government agencies and individuals for the 2020 Victoria quarantine disaster and 801 deaths bore fruit.
WorkSafe Victoria announced that itCharges against the Ministry of Health.This indictment shows that themulti-year campaignfrom Self-Employed Australia (SEA) was absolutely correct. Without this campaign, the indictment would almost certainly not take place.
But WorkSafe claims it doesn’t have to do anything else. It refuses to prosecute those responsible like the Victorian premier. That’s not good enough. It’s like chasing a gun, not the person who pulled the trigger.
We at SEA have decided that now we have no choice but to take WorkSafe to court. We have organized a top legal team for this. The legal strategy is set. But this is going to be a tough and expensive legal battle. The cost of legal fees will be enormous.Now we have We have set ourselves the goal of raising the money we need.
The legal path that is open to us is quite narrow in one respect. We say WorkSafe must refer the investigation to the Victorian Attorney General if he doesn’t prosecute individuals. WorkSafe refuses.It has told us, “WorkSafe does not need to give reasons” and told us that we would like to “seek possibly independent legal advice”.
If the problem gets bigger is that once the investigations are passed from WorkSafe to the DPP, the DPP must review and make law enforcement recommendations, which the DPP will return to WorkSafe. Here is the kicker. WorkSafe must then forward these recommendations and the investigations to SEA. For a layperson, at least the simple reading of § 131 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act says that. WorkSafe takes a different view.
In other words, the process inevitably leads to public disclosure of WorkSafe’s detailed investigation and the reasons for the prosecution or failure to prosecute individuals. We say that such transparency should take place. But WorkSafe says it doesn’t have to follow this process.
To date, SEA has taken a first step in law enforcement without the need for legal proceedings. In the past year there have been 38 correspondence between Self-Employed Australia and WorkSafe. Additionally, in September SEA wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Attorney General, Shadow Attorney General, WorkSafe Minister, Shadow WorkSafe Minister, Ombudsman, and Attorney General. There was careful legal guidance at every step.
Based on legal advice, the next steps include filing a petition with the Victoria Supreme Court under Section 8 of the Administrative Law Act 1978 (Vic) to require WorkSafe to state the reasons for its decision. Emphasis is placed on the reasons (a) why each of the named individuals we delivered to WorkSafe was not indicted and (b) why matters relating to each of the named individuals were not referred to the DPP.
In addition, an application for a. be asked Writing mandamus (Court decision) asking WorkSafe to comply with its legal obligations.
In view of WorkSafe’s refusal to comply with its (s131) legal obligations to date, SEA must assume that WorkSafe will use all technical legal possibilities and arguments to refute the above-described requests by SEA. The s131 provisions of the law are, as we are recommended, unexamined in court. When initiating this rule of law suit, the SEA must assume that an appeal to the High Court is very likely.
It seems incredible that it is. But of course this is Victoria in 2021. No place in the world has seen such a draconian, authoritarian reaction to Covid as the people of Victoria. Zero transparency about the reasons for such draconian measures is a hallmark of the government. WorkSafe’s approach and attitude are the same as those of the government.
What is the bottom line that we are looking for? Self Employed Australia just wants WorkSafe to do its job. This means at least investigating the following people and, if necessary, prosecuting them. We’re not saying anyone is guilty. That must be decided by the courts.
Here is the list: Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria. Jenny Mikakos, the former Minister of Health. Kym Peake, secretary for health and social affairs. Melissa Skilbeck, DHHS, Assistant Secretary, Regulation, Health and Emergency Management. Andrea Spiteri, DHHS, Managing Director, Emergency Management. Jason Helps, DHHS, assistant director, emergency management. Brett Sutton, Chief Health Officer. Annaliese van Dieman, Deputy Chief Health Officer. Michelle Giles, assistant commandant of public health. Simon Crouch, DHHS, Senior Medical Adviser, Deputy Deputy Chief Health Officer. Noel Cleaves, DHHS, Manager Environmental Health, Regulation and Compliance.
In a democracy where the rule of law is supposed to apply, it should apply regardless of status, power and position of the individual. The institutions that enforce the law need to be transparent about enforcement. In this case, it looks like it will cost a lot of money from the private sector to enforce these principles given the massive power of the state.
Our Funding campaign is in full swing.
Ken Phillips is the Executive Director of Self-Employed Australia.