Minister fails to direct WorkSafe to investigate hotel quarantine

Today in Question Time, Labor’s hapless Minister for Workplace Safety, Ingrid Stitt, confirmed she has failed Victorians by not requiring WorkSafe to investigate health and safety failures in hotel quarantine.

The Minister at first claimed that this is “not [her] job” and was clearly unaware that s. 7(1)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 confirms the Minister’s power to require WorkSafe to “enquire into and report to the Minister on any matters referred to [WorkSafe] by the Minister…”

To date, WorkSafe CEO and former Labor Government staffer, Colin Radford, has failed to confirm to the Victorian community whether Worksafe will be taking action against the Andrews Labor Government for its failed management of its initial hotel quarantine.

This is despite the fact that the Government’s failures led to the death of over 800 people, forced a stage four lockdown on the Victorian community, forced thousands of businesses to close, and resulted in significant financial, social, and psychological consequences for Victorians.

Furthermore, in a shorter timeframe, the Coate Inquiry, which cost the Victorian community $4.8 million (excluding the $7.7 million in the Government’s disclosed legal costs), obtained and considered voluminous evidence and produced two reports outlining a litany of health and safety breaches in the Government’s failed initial program.

If a private company caused as much death and destruction in Victoria as this Government, the Minister would have ensured that WorkSafe had undertaken urgent action to prosecute that organisation.

WorkSafe is also yet to confirm whether an investigation has been launched into the most recent breaches of the Hotel Quarantine Program managed by COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria and the full extent of its monitoring and enforcement of this program.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Workplace Safety, Nick Wakeling:

“It is imperative that WorkSafe undertakes swift action in prosecuting those responsible for the failures in Victoria’s Hotel Quarantine Program. If WorkSafe had acted swiftly, then the recent failures in the Holiday Inn program may have been avoided.

“Minister Stitt is either out of her depth or running a protection racket for the Andrews Labor Government.

“The Minister needs to do her job and ensure WorkSafe takes swift action in investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the horrendous failures in hotel quarantining.”

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