Victorian businesses mull class action over quarantine bungle

Law firm Phi Finney McDonald has advised that it may pursue a class action against the Victorian government over the bungled hotel quarantine program.

The firm’s MD Ben Phi says it has been approached by a number of businesses about a class action.

Premier Daniel Andrews has acknowledged that the state’s second wave of COVID-19 infections was primarily due to the hotel quarantine program. Professor Ian Ramsay from the Centre for Corporate Law says class actions against governments are relatively rare but are becoming more common:

The firm, Phi Finney and McDonald, said it had fielded inquiries by companies that have been hit hard during the second wave of coronavirus and associated lockdowns.

Managing director Ben Phi said that lawyers were now investigating the prospect of taking on the state government, which had “acknowledged that mistakes were made”.

“The evidence suggests that quarantine failures led to the second wave and all of the devastating personal and financial consequences that have followed,” he said…

“We have been approached by Victorian businesses who are interested in pursuing a class action. We are investigating the situation and following the evidence as it unfolds in the inquiry.”

The problem is that ambulance chasing actions don’t harvest ‘free’ money. The windfall has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is Victorian taxpayers.

Leith van Onselen
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  1. Just some ambulance chaser looking for cheap publicity. You can’t sue governments for things like this.

    • You’ll find that the public liability insurance clause in the security service contract with government is the hidden issue here. Government will seek to shift the damages to the security services if negligence is proven – hence the “hands off” approach by the Premier. The security companies are pooing their pants because gross negligence can be the ‘out’ for their insurance cover leaving their directors exposed to damages.

      Key to the public-private governance scam is blame and risk shifting where the state hides behind contract clauses that aim to eliminate political risk. It won’t work in this case as it is a clear example of how running down the public sector and making it a sad reflection of ‘corporate-focused’ managerialism and opportunism is a killer.

    • migtronixMEMBER

      Force majoure. Wait till the insurance tell them to a suck a bag of dees…… This depression will be epic.

      Not for me though as I’ve been saying for years – looking at you skip….

  2. Seems like desperation – aside from a few areas legal work is mostly down. Wouldn’t have thought too many businesses wouldn’t be eligible for Jobkeeper or other handouts.

  3. Leith Not necessarily just Victorian taxpayers as using the OH and S legislation passed on business owners as a model then asset confiscation and jail terms for manslaughter for negligence are a possibility. This is why the protagonists have denied responsibility as this is what their legal counsel would have advised.

  4. In simple terms if there was negligence then there are grounds for a claim. Government departments and agencies get sued frequently.

    • I would say, taking 4 days to sit on your hands during a pandemic to let the feds know as part of protocol for aged care sounds like negligence to me.. that wasn’t a security company who had the responsibility for this…. And if that would have limited the spread, perhaps stage 4 was not required.

  5. Stewie GriffinMEMBER

    Pity you can’t sue the ‘thought leaders’ who are behind the sort of diversity initiatives, that promote diversity and inclusivity over competence.

    • Should we also consider including suing the neoliberal economic model? (Sham contracting, cheap labour whatever the ethnicity of the workers)

      • If you can prove negligence and that you have suffered a financial loss because of it then, yes.

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        Absolutely include the neoliberals – they are the other side of the same progressive globalist ideas coin that we get handed over and over again, in terms of policy solutions to the problems we experience as a society – those libtard immigration and diversity policies soften up the sympathy vote for a nice wedge issue when anyone ever tries and stands up against the neoliberals goals of using immigration to crush wages as being ‘rac!st’.

        One side helps buttress the other, and they both reinforce a system that locks out any possibility of the existing societies self interest being championed let alone preserved, because our society is now just viewed as an economic zone it is impossible to make any claims on our society’s interest other than in pure economic terms.

        There is no Australia or Australian anymore, just a collection of people inhabiting, interacting and consuming as individual economic actors in the EZFKA.

        • “There is no Australia or Australian anymore, just a collection of people inhabiting, interacting and consuming as individual economic actors in the EZFKA.”

          You left out ‘and destroying’ Stewie – there’ll be precious little left soon for anyone

  6. BoomToBustMEMBER

    I dont support a class action against the State of Vic, I support a class action against Dictator Dan and his band of muppets. Something that see’s them all in prison garb.

    • Just looked up the penalties for proprietors under Worksafe Manslaughter and it s 20 years jail time and $16.5 million for businesses. The negligence of Andrews and his incompetents should be pursued in the same manner as proprietors would be under these crcumstances.

      • And that is where this falls down somewhat and the point of defence in court will be around this. Andrews was not operating a business here. His government paid a Security company to enforce a quarantine, that company didn’t enforce it, leading to the problem.

        If the Quarantine was performed on a location where the government operated a business it may apply. So the issues here really comes down to this definition.

        The other thing is in order to be found guilty you have to prove they failed to provide adequate safety coverage and training when the need for it was raised. The buck will stop at whoever failed to enforce this, but applies to everyone up the chain. If the government had clear requirements for WHS and safety training then it falls on the execs, if they can show they insisted on the training then it falls on the next in line. Ultimately IF the company can show they did everything in their power to train and advise the guard then the buck stops at the guard.

        The legislation does not Automatically rise up to the top of the organisation, the changes were to prevent execs saying it wasn’t their problem, not to make them automatically guilty. Admittedly it will be hard to prove that management in the security company did provide adequate training and safety in this scenario, but even then it would have to be shown the risks were identified and they ignored them.

        I had this discussion recently on Macrobusiness, I was given the legislation and I read through it. While I am not a lawyer I have dealt with enough contracts over the years to have a reasonable understanding of what the meaning of the clauses are. Ironically the day after reading through the legislation I had to sit a mandatory WHS/OHS training and it covered this exact legislation and the training pretty much reflected my assessment.

        Its going to be interesting to see this play out…

        • kanniget I agree with you. The legal action will not succeed. I only write this about proprietors to exemplify the double standards. For instance if a proprietor defending a supposed negligence action under O H and S legislation were to come up with Andrews’ defence of ” I am working so hard or have worked so hard” The results are rubbish and he should be pilloried.

          • Except I think you have the business relationship wrong.

            If I am running a business and hire another company to build a a warehouse, Unless it can be shown my company prevented safety measures the buck for any liability stops at the top of the other company.

            Same applies in this case. What I would like to know is what political connections does the company who provided the security service have,All the focus has been on the government failing, where is the focus on the company who hired people via whatsapp chats and provided no training or PPE?

        • kanniget What you say is true but apparently the govt was informed several times of the failings in the security companies activities and did not act. Also the companies were not up to the tasks in the first place so the govt has significant responsibility.


      Yeh I wonder how much US citizens could get from Trumpo before they swing him from the gallows. He’s cocked it up infinitely more than Danno

  7. A successful class action would require a view of ‘no virus infection’ versus the current ‘migrant caused Melbourne virus outbreak.

    And where would you draw the line in responsibility for the Melbourne outbreak?

    👉🏾The Australian federal government who allowed over 280,000 people from February.. From China, India, Europe, the US and many other Chinese virus infected countries into Australia….
    with 186,000 of those being non Australian citizens as PR fleeing back to Australia to suck up our welfare and Medicare, along with 25,000 TR / TV – all with minimal or no screening controls?

    👉🏾The Australian fake foreign education sector who paid for and assisted many overseas infected into Australia via ‘transit stopovers in third countries’ to evade any checks or quarantine. Criminals.

    👉🏾Or maybe a class action against the Asian prostitutes in the above mix, who promptly set up shop in the Australia government funded quarantine hotels – to service customers, hotel staff and security guards in these hotels?

    👉🏾Or the migrant labour hire companies, who hired migrant guestworker lowlife as ‘security guards’ with no training or PPE.
    Who got the disease from the infected migrants and travellers being allowed in – and then spread the China Virus to their Melbourne Indian, Pakistani and Sudanese, Somalian communities.
    And then as it spread thru the migrant underground community in Melbourne who have infested our Australia funded public housing, who then spread the China Virus thru their filthy overcrowded cash in hand bunk share to other migrants..

    and then into the wider Australia community including as cleaners and bed pan staff into our aged care homes and hospitals.
    Resulting in thousands of new infections.
    Killing a lot of senior Australians in aged care.
    Infecting Australians in food, retail, wholesale.

    This virus is from China.
    Initially it was only spread by Chinese.
    A complete ban on all Chinese from January was needed. Instead we allowed them in.

    Now the China Virus has infected 20 million globally.
    Virtually every country in the world.

    👉🏾The answer is simple.
    Many other countries deported their migrant guestworkers as a bio security risk, and economic risk also in Job theft at a time of crisis and massive unemployment.
    The migrant guestworkers and the migrant enclaves are the incubation hub and transmission vector of the China Virus into Australia.
    We need public identification and electronic bracelets for all non citizen migrant guestworkers.
    All 2.5 million (1.1 million alone in Melbourne)

    All of them identified, tagged and tracked.
    Their activities and locations / movements tracked.
    Their illegal jobs and activities shut down.
    Almost all will be in visa & COe breach.
    They have no valid reason to in Australia.
    No classes & no fees being paid (and they can study online in their home country)
    No ‘skilled job’ pretext
    No protection visa pretext
    No working holiday or backpacker pretext
    No funds
    No health cover – they will be a huge risk and burden and swamp our public healthcare system system as the first major wave of infections.

    Their funds and sources of income checked.
    Not allowed in a public place unless they have clearance.

    👉🏾 And then the round up and deportation.
    100 flights a day (well within our spare airplane and airport capacity with 250 non citizens on each plane.
    25,000 a day exited – back to their third world country of origin.
    100 days sees 2.5 million third world migrant TR cleaned out.
    They should never have been allowed into Australia in the first place.

    • Yeah, so you obviously hate immigrants for some reason. its a pity though coz you actually started to sound sane at first.

    • The reports used to have a chart showing the country of origin for overseas infections. Almost all of them came from either Europe or USA. The first guy who arrived infected from China appropriately self-isolated, called the hospital in advance to warn them and wore a mask when he arrived at the hospital. I’m willing to bet that none of the people fooling around and flouting the rules in quarantine were from China.

      • Yep, epidemiological reports have identified the virus strain we have came via the US, who in turn got it from Italy.

        The virus has shone a blinding light on globalisation, gross inequality, casualisation of labour, wage theft, animal cruelty, poverty etc

      • Go argue with the police evidence submitted to the enquiry.

        Asian hookers returning on the PR or TR setting up shop while in quarantine hotels – having sex with the other hotel ‘guests’ the staff and the wechat hired Indian Somali and Sudanese security guards.

        Who then spread it to their migrant enclaves.

        Who then spread it to the Australian community and our hospitals and aged care (cleaners & bedpan assistants)
        Killing Australians.

        It doesn’t matter what virus strain it was or if it originally came from some Pom or returning Aussie from the US.

        And btw the Chinese have been caught with type S type L and the later Europe mutations.
        Gold Coast labs March caught a Chinese with both.

        👉🏾The vector of transmission in the most recent Melbourne outbreak was via asian sex workers in quarantine to the underground illegally working migrants.
        👉🏾That’s the point.

  8. I certainly think Andrews and his government has some responsibility, but the govt should be the last people sued. The damned security companies took the contracts, resourced it with the cheapest people they could find and didnt train them. They need to be pursued mercilessly. I dont get why everyone looks to blame the government, they just aranged the contract with their mates and assumed it would be done. Their mates need to be sued and deregistered, and their directors barred from ever holding office again, as well as jailed for manslaughter. Accountability has the wrong definition, we all know governments are muppets and shifting blame constantly to them just lets the real culprets get away wit it time and time again.

    • its worse than that. The end result of all this is that more red tape get created to prevent a re-occurrence. the red tape never solves anything. Its amazing how many people complain about the inefficiencies of the public service but are also the first to line up for a complaint that just results in more red tape.