Demand to know why Dan, CHO weren’t prosecuted

WorkSafe may be forced to share details of its investigation into Victoria’s disastrous hotel quarantine system— exposing the Premier and chief health officer.

The Supreme Court will be asked to rule whether WorkSafe should hand over to public prosecutors details of its investigation into Victoria’s disastrous hotel quarantine system.

The move is aimed at exposing reasons why individuals – including Premier Daniel Andrews and health chiefs in Victoria – haven’t been prosecuted for their role in overseeing the flawed scheme in 2020.

In a writ of mandamus to be issued on Monday, business group Self Employed Australia will ask the court whether the workplace watchdog followed the law when it last year refused to prove the lengths it went to in its probe, which ended with the Department of Health charged.

Documents sought would show whether Mr Andrews and chief health officer Brett Sutton were interviewed, and whether individuals involved in the scheme were pursued.

The Herald Sun understands that SEA lawyers will also subpoena 26 witnesses, including the premier, who were listed in a 2020 complaint to WorkSafe as potentially liable to prosecution.

Late last year WorkSafe charged the Department of Health with 58 breaches of workplace laws, each worth $1.64m, but ruled out a pursuit of individuals.

The Department of Health is yet to issue a plea, with the case set to be heard next month.

Poor infection control measures and training were some of the reasons blamed for Covid-19 leaking into the community and sparking a “second wave” of the virus that led to more than 800 deaths.

Executive director of the SEA, Ken Phillips, said the group’s writ was about workplace laws.

“WorkSafe have told us that because they are prosecuting Health, they don’t have to prosecute anyone else or do anything else,” he said.

“We say that under the work safety laws WorkSafe must supply to the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions materials from their investigations into each of the other 26 individuals and departments we have named, if WorkSafe chooses not to prosecute them, and give us reasons why they are not prosecuting them.

“Our writ of mandamus asks the court to look at the law and decide who is correct, us or WorkSafe.”

Mr Phillips said the case was aimed at ensuring “no one is above the law”.

“In a murder case we don’t prosecute the gun we prosecute the people who pulled the trigger,” he said.

“We are dealing with criminal matters here and a department can’t commit a criminal act.”

Source: Herald Sun

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