It’s been a little while since we updated you on the legal process of prosecuting the Victorian government over the 2020 Victorian Hotel Quarantine disaster that resulted in over 800 deaths. What’s at stake is whether governments hold themselves accountable to the same standards to which they hold the rest of us.
It’s quite clear that our Not Above the Law Campaign forced Victorian WorkSafe to prosecute the Department of Health. We have to ask the question: how genuine is that prosecution? We’re chasing this and here’s an update:
- The prosecution of Health was announced on 29 September 2021 and involved the laying of 58 charges. Since then there has been NO, that’s ZERO, further information.
- We decided to check things out. We went to the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court and were told that there was an online directions hearing on 26 May. Members of the public could attend and we were told we’d receive an email link. The link arrived. We dutifully attended only to discover that we’d been sent the wrong link. Goodness—what an unfortunate mistake by someone!!!
- We tried to hunt down the case number. What an effort that was, given that the case name has not been made public from what we could discover. Victory! We discovered the name. It’s Victorian WorkSafe Authority v The Crown in the Right of the State of Victoria (Department of Health). Case number M12097325. If you want to follow the case, check the Magistrates’ Court website, choose the “Criminal List” button in the top left corner and put the case number in the appropriate box. Members of the public have a right to attend, but it seems you’ll need to ring the Magistrates Court to receive a link (assuming you’re sent the correct link) or else attend the hearing in person.
- Next step is that we’ve applied to the Court for the release of all court documents. We’re after the charge sheet, summons, prosecution summary and so on. Lawyers tell us that in criminal cases (OHS charges are criminal) such documents are ordinarily public documents. But the release will be decided at the next hearing date, Friday 17 June at 10 am (a Committal Mention). It will be interesting to see if WorkSafe and Health both apply to keep the documents hidden from the public.
Justice is something that must be done and must be seen to be done! But, goodness, with the Health prosecution there seems to be a lot happening to keep it ‘unseen’. We’re chasing this up and will update you after the 17 June.