If you’ve been following our Not Above the Law campaign, you’ll likely be aware of a BIG development yesterday. Early in the afternoon WorkSafe Victoria announced that it is prosecuting the Victorian Department of Health over the hotel quarantine disaster of 2020.
This triggered a media storm with coverage across the nation. After I went into a deep-dive analysis with our lawyers, I then spent all afternoon doing media interviews – ABC (radio, TV, print), SkyNews, Herald Sun, 3AW radio and others. Thanks to everyone for the huge number of emails and texts. Pardon me for not responding. I thought it best to do so now.
Here is some background information:
Ombudsman: Yesterday morning we lodged our detailed complaint to the Victorian Ombudsman about WorkSafe not complying with the law by failing to send its investigations to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The WorkSafe announcement yesterday afternoon does not change that complaint one bit. WorkSafe still must provide its investigation materials to the DPP on all the parties that they are not prosecuting. WorkSafe continues to fail to apply the law on this.
Thanks to everyone who lodged complaints with the Ombudsman over the last week. It’s been huge. If you have not done so, please still lodge a complaint.
Channel 9 Advert: I am advised that, as of late yesterday, Channel 9 has decided to run our advert. Again, thanks to everyone who lodged complaints with Channel 9. It’s also been huge. But I’ll be cautious. I won’t say it’s a definite until the first advert airs. That should be very soon if arrangements fall into place.
WorkSafe Letter: WorkSafe wrote to us late yesterday afternoon essentially saying, ‘the matter is now closed’. We wrote back saying ‘no it’s not!’
Here’s a key issue:
Criminal law: Work safety breaches are indictable criminal offences. An ‘organisation’ cannot commit a criminal act. Only people do. A gun does not commit murder. The person who pulled the trigger commits murder. Common sense would suggest that the Department of Health cannot not commit criminal OHS breaches. The people who control, direct and run the Department commit the offences.
Therefore this issue is not closed by WorkSafe’s prosecuting the Health Department. We are continuing with our campaign. We are not stopping. We are just warming up.
How will we succeed? I keep being asked, ‘how will we get WorkSafe to undertake prosecution of individuals’? My reply is ‘by doing what we have been doing’. This is a people movement. We must, and will keep delivering analysis and messaging about the need for the prosecution of Departments and individuals. We have confidence in the voice of the people!
And you, our SEA members, are at the core of this. The campaign has taken us this far in getting yesterday’s breakthrough. But it’s only happened because of your support — people contributing $5 and up, putting in time and effort (contacting the Ombudsman, etc) and more.
Our huge thanks. We should all be pleased. But there’s still a lot more to be done!