This is a special email to update you on the outcome of our mandamus application to the Victorian Supreme Court over WorkSafe Victoria’s failure to prosecute individuals and entities over the 2020 Hotel Quarantine disaster.
On 2 December 2022, we informed you of the Court’s ruling (delivered that day) which declared that we had not lodged our application ‘on time’. That is, our application was dismissed on a technicality. We disagree with and reject this decision.
For fuller details on the case:
- This link is to the ruling of 2 December. We’ve highlighted some sections.
- This link gives an overview of the 3-year campaign, plus some commentary on the ruling.
- We have made available a full commentary on the ruling to SEA members.
Here’s a summary
Supreme Court rules require that lodgement needs to occur within 60 days of when the named government department failed to do what that department is required to do by law. The issue was: what was that date?
WorkSafe refused to answer whether they had investigated those named entities as required. But the ruling states that, as of 29 September 2021, we should have inferred, concluded or assumed that WorkSafe had investigated all the 26 entities/individuals that we named (the Victorian Premier, etc). (Our application was lodged on 14 February 2022.)
We say that that conclusion is wrong and that we did not and could not have known. The Court’s ruling was based on interpreting drawn-out correspondence spanning many months about who said what to whom and what we should have inferred by what was said/written.
The ruling then does two curious things in our view.
- It spends considerable time rebutting many of our published allegations/assessments we made as to why individuals/entities should be prosecuted. Why bother to do that when the dismissal of our application on technical grounds was all that was needed? The ruling reads as a defence of the government individuals and entities we named.
- The ruling then says that if the court allow SEA’s application that this would put the individuals we named under ‘stress’ and this should not occur.
It seems that the Court is saying that an individual should not be prosecuted for alleged offences if the prosecution were to cause the individual ‘stress’. We ask: Would this principle apply to an accused murderer? That is, should an accused not be prosecuted because they would feel ‘stressed’? We find this a disturbing concept. We will have more to say on this issue.
SEA is committed to continuing our ‘Not Above the Law’ campaign, along with our other campaigns on public policy issues affecting self-employed people and more.
I’m available to chat should you want more information or explanation.
Executive Director, Self-Employed Australia
0412 393 692