Today we release a major report into why the Victorian government and others must be prosecuted for breaches in the 2020 Hotel Quarantine Program.
The Coate Report into the Program made no recommendations for prosecutions. However, this is because Coate did not consider the evidence from a work safety law perspective.
Self-Employed Australia has studied the Coate Report applying Victorian OHS law provisions. Based on the evidence and specialist OHS legal advice, we conclude that the case for the prosecution of the Victorian Government and others is overwhelming.
SEA has produced a 50-page report identifying the alleged breaches, referencing those breaches to the evidence in the Coate Report and OHS law. That report has been provided to the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions.
Coate evidence – Infection control chaos
The evidence from the Coate Report is that at the high end of the program
The Department of Health
- was the designated ‘control agency’ yet
- refused to take control of ensuring that correct infection control implementation was applied in the hotels
The Department of Jobs controlled the hotel, cleaning and personnel contracts yet
- asserted that it had no expertise in infection control and could not manage infection control implementation
Coate found that the dispute between Health and Jobs created chaos through the system from top to bottom. This meant that no-one took responsibility for infection control implementation.
Coate says that this created a “catastrophe waiting to happen”, a “ disaster that tragically came to be” caused by “lack of proper leadership and oversight”.
OHS law holds persons liable both for what they do and what they fail to do.
The failure of the Victorian government to ensure proper lines of responsibility and accountability for the correct implementation of infection control procedures constitutes alleged breaches of the OHS Act at multiple levels by the Victorian government and other people.
From this central situation of ‘chaos’ and dysfunction, additional multiple breaches are revealed—for example, the training of staff working in the hotels in infection control procedures was chaotic, contradictory, inconsistent and conducted by people who had no infection control expertise. Failure to train staff is a specific breach of the OHS Act.
The evidence from the Coate Report is overwhelming for alleged multiple breaches of the Victorian OHS Act by the Victorian government, departments and other people. The evidence is so strong that prosecutions must occur. SEA’s report provides the detail.