A 'mock court' scenario in which "the guilty are punished and the innocent nervous" was a talking point of the first-day workshops of the PANPA08 conference on Queensland's Gold Coast.
Former WorkCover prosecution lawyer Bruce Whitehead - who now runs The Brief Group as a consultancy for employers - led the session in which participants took roles in a simulated court hearing.
And the outcome was a foregone conclusion: "If a safety case goes to court, there's a 99 per cent chance that you'll be found guilty," Whitehead says.
Although prosecutions have "leveled out" following the change of government, there were 300 prosections in New South Wales last year and 147 in Queensland. "Avoiding prosecution is about doing the basics well," Whitehead says.
The workshop was one of eight held during the first day of the conference, which continued on Tuesday with a keynote address by Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd.
Nigel French took a couple of dozen participants though the basics of print cost calculations, and there were also half-day marketing and editorial sessions. Pulitzer prizewinner David Leeson from the 'Dallas Morning News', shared his enthusiasms in a day-long photographic workshop designed to improve video footage and editing technique.
Later the focus turned to the use of podcasts - which Stuart Cameron believes may be a better alternative to video in most cases - and newspaper design, the latter with world-renowned mentor Dr Mario Garcia.
The first day's proceeding concluded with a Goss-sponsored welcome entertainment including fire-eaters and string trio Masque beside the casino pool ... at least until thunder and rain had delegates hurrying inside.