ESTABLISHMENT OF THE INQUIRY

The Board

On 11 March 2014, Dr Denis Napthine MP, Premier of Victoria, announced an independent inquiry into the Hazelwood mine fire. On 21 March 2014, the Governor in Council officially established the Board of Inquiry. The Board is made up of the following members:

The Honourable Bernard Teague AO, Chairperson

The Honourable Bernard Teague AO was the Chair of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission from February 2009 to August 2010. He was a Supreme Court Judge from 1987 to 2008. During this period he chaired the Adult Parole Board and the Victorian Forensic Leave Panel. He was also a Council Member at the Institute of Forensic Mental Health. Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, he was a solicitor specialising in defamation and other civil law.

Professor Emeritus John Catford, Board Member

Professor John Catford is the Executive Medical Director for Epworth HealthCare, the largest not-for-profit health service in Victoria. He is a registered medical practitioner with specialist qualifications in paediatrics and public health medicine. He has been a Professor of Public Health for thirty years and has held senior academic and health service management positions in Australia, the United Kingdom, and with the World Health Organisation. As Dean of Health and Medicine at Deakin University, Professor Catford led the development of the Deakin Medical School, which opened in Geelong in 2008. In 2011, he was appointed Vice President and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) of Deakin University. Professor Catford has held numerous Board positions, including with the National Health and Medical Research Council, Diabetes Australia, and the National Heart Foundation. He is currently Chair of the Youth Support and Advocacy Service Board and Deputy Chair of the VicHealth Board.

Ms Sonia Petering, Board Member

Ms Sonia Petering is a practising corporate lawyer. She is Chair of the Rural Finance Corporation of Victoria and a Director of the Transport Accident Corporation. Ms Petering served as an inaugural Director of Australia’s first community bank owned by Bendigo Bank Ltd, and was also a member of the Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water Board. Educated in the Wimmera region, Ms Petering completed her law and commerce degrees at the University of Melbourne.

Terms of Reference

Under the Terms of Reference, the Board is to inquire into, and report on, and make any recommendations that it considers appropriate in relation to the matters specified below:

  1. The origin and circumstances of the fire, including how it spread into the Hazelwood Coal Mine.
  2. The adequacy and effectiveness of the measures taken by or on behalf of the owner, operator and licensee of the Hazelwood Coal Mine to prevent the outbreak of a fire, and to be prepared to respond to an outbreak of a fire including mitigating its spread and severity, in the Hazelwood Coal Mine, including whether the owner, operator and licensee of the Hazelwood Coal Mine, or any person or entity acting on behalf of any of them:
    1. implemented the recommendations arising from reviews of previous events; and
    2. in the opinion of the Board, breached or did not comply with the requirements of (or under) any relevant statute or regulation, including any notification or directive given under such statute or regulation and any code of practice, management plan or similar scheme, developed and/or implemented due to such requirements.
  3. The adequacy and effectiveness of the application and administration of relevant regulatory regimes in relation to the risk of, and response to, fire at the Hazelwood Coal Mine.
  4. The adequacy and effectiveness of the response to the Hazelwood Coal Mine Fire by:
    1. the owner, operator and licensee of the Hazelwood Coal Mine;
    2. the emergency services; and
    3. other relevant government agencies, including environmental and public health officials, and, in particular, the measures taken in respect of the health and well-being of the affected communities by:
    4. informing the affected communities of the Hazelwood Coal Mine Fire and about its known effects and risks; and
    5. responding to those effects on, and risks to, the affected communities.
  5. Any other matter reasonably incidental to the matters specified in paragraphs 1 to 4.

Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry Secretariat

The Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry Secretariat was established to support the work of the Board of Inquiry. The Secretariat was based at 20 Hazelwood Road, Morwell, the same location as the Community Information and Recovery Centre that was established during the Hazelwood mine fire.

The Secretariat was headed by Dr Elizabeth Lanyon and consisted of a small staff. Members of the Secretariat are listed in the Appendix. The Board thanks them for their dedication and commitment to meeting tight deadlines.

The Board thanks K&L Gates for their legal expertise, and for expert document management support.

Counsel Assisting

The Board was greatly supported by Counsel Assisting, Ms Melinda Richards SC and Mr Peter Rozen, who managed the hearings process, advised what documents should be summonsed or requested and tendered, selected witnesses, led evidence, and made submissions at the hearings in Morwell. Counsel Assisting also provided the Board with legal advice and guidance throughout the Inquiry. The Board thanks them for their insight.

Acknowledgments

The Board of Inquiry sincerely thanks the Latrobe Valley community for their generous support of the work of the Board. In particular, the Board acknowledges the important role the community has played by sharing their personal experiences and local knowledge.

The Board acknowledges and thanks the following people and organisations for their time and cooperation in supporting the work of the Board:

  • Latrobe City Council
  • Gippsland Community Leadership Program Alumni
  • Latrobe Community Health Service
  • Latrobe Valley business owners, managers and staff
  • Department of Justice – Gippsland Regional Office
  • Mr John Drewett, State Electricity Commission of Victoria, Office of the Administrator
  • Ms Chris Kotur and Mr Michael Henry – community consultation facilitators
  • Gippsland Multicultural Services
  • Rocket Surgery Films Pty Ltd
  • Three’s A Crowd
  • Virtual Operations Support Team – social media monitors.

The Board thanks the Victorian Government Solicitor and his office, government departments and agencies, GDF Suez and its solicitors, King & Wood Mallesons, and all other parties, solicitors and counsel, for their assistance throughout the Inquiry.