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Could Dan Andrews face industrial manslaughter investigation?

By Ken Phillips - posted Monday, 17 August 2020

It's hard for Victorians not to be angry over the Covid-19 crisis. You can almost feel the widespread fury directed primarily towards Premier Dan Andrews.

The hotel quarantine failures of earlier this year are largely recognised for the outbreak crisis. But who is to blame? Should or will anyone be prosecuted? They are many questions.

Should the individual security guard/s who allegedly had sex with quarantined hotel 'inmates' face jail? Are security guards who let people out for shopping or a smoko at fault? Should the security firms and their managers be liable for bad managerial control of the guards?


Who stopped the use of police and Australian Defence Force personnel to control the quarantines and why? Are they to blame?

Top bureaucrats warned senior health officials of hotel quarantine problems in March. Nothing was done. Are health officials to blame? Did the 'top bureaucrats' fail to follow up? One nurse allegesthat health officials intentionally relaxed the quarantine rules.

The questions multiply and will presumably be investigated by the Coate inquiry into the hotel shambles. But will the inquiry only reveal the superficial causes of the crisis? Or will it dig deeper into the underlying political structure through which Victoria is now governed? This could expose an even greater truth about the crisis.

It is well understood in Melbourne business circles that if you want to do any business with the Victorian government, you need cosy relationships with unions. This involves union–controlled agreements, payments to union superannuation and other funds, attendance at costly union and Labor fund–raising functions and so on. It's all perfectly legal on the surface.

But it goes further-extending to cosy relationships with the Labor network of law firms, financial institutions and more. This is the modern Melbourne 'establishment'. It's not fat white men smoking cigars in private clubs. Instead, it's socially aware, ethical spouting entrepreneur types drinking craft beer in inner-city pubs.

In effect, the Victorian socialists have become capitalists. And they are rich. At the centre is the Labor Party machine which politically cements the establishment's structure. It's all perfectly legitimate on the surface and dominant since around 1999.


It's worked. It's made Melbourne a vibrant party town. Until coronavirus.

The downside of such an overpowering business-union-political establishment has been an arguable corruption of the processes of Victorian governance. For anyone doing business with or near the government, it's been necessary to be in or near the 'establishment.'

This need for proximity means that when government work and contracts are allocated what really wins the work is establishment links. The expected 'at arm's-length' public service processes of control of, and accountability for, work are diminished. This dislocates responsibility, transparency and effectiveness within the public service.

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This article was first published in The Spectator,

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Ken Phillips is executive director of Independent Contractors of Australia.

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