It’s been eight weeks since the Victorian WorkSafe Authority failed to send to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) its investigation into the 2020 hotel quarantine disaster that led to 801 deaths. Every day it fails to do this is another day in which it is giving the big finger to the legal requirement it faces. We explained this 2 weeks ago.
It’s now 540 days since the quarantine disaster, 450 days since WorkSafe says it started the investigation and 330 days since we triggered the Act forcing WorkSafe to investigate.
Compare this to similar triggers for investigations made to WorkSafe in 2019-20. According to WorkSafe’s annual report, it had 11 requests that year and started all investigations within 9 days. The longest time to complete an investigation was 201 days.
The failure of WorkSafe in this current case is obvious and raises suspicion. What’s going on? I explained this and raised questions on national Italian radio last week. Listen here. (It’s in English.)
And talk about double standards. Look at this case. A hyperbaric company has been fined $726,750 over the death of a disabled patient. The company and director were found guilty of breaching section 26 of the Act (Duties of persons who manage or control workplaces). This is exactly one of the provisions that we alleged has been breached multiple times by the government in the hotel quarantine mess.
WorkSafe’s Acting Director Health and Safety said this of the case: “If you are running a business in Victoria, you have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of not only your workers but also members of the public …” We say ‘Yes’ to this. Is WorkSafe going to apply this standard to the Victorian government? So far, ‘No’ is the answer!
The Acting Director also said “WorkSafe will not hesitate to take action against employers who put people’s lives in danger by not having basic safety procedures in place.” Well, we ask for that standard to be applied to the Victorian government. So far, all we see from WorkSafe is not just ‘hesitation’ but outright refusal to comply with its legal obligations.