Daily Bulletin


News

  • Written by Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra
Ruby Princess inquiry blames NSW health officials for debacle

The inquiry commissioned by the Berejiklian government into the Ruby Princess COVID-19 disaster has laid blame on NSW health officials, who made “inexcusable” and “inexplicable” mistakes. It also exonerated the Australian Border Force.

In the report, the federal government was sharply criticised for refusing to allow an official to appear before the inquiry, with commissioner Bret Walker SC saying this belied Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s promise of full cooperation.

Some 2,700 passengers from the Carnival Australia cruise ship were allowed to disembark on March 19 before the test results for COVID-19 had come back. The passengers, some of whom had displayed respiratory symptoms, scattered widely, spreading the virus. This led to hundreds of cases, with some 28 deaths linked to the cluster.

Walker found serious mistakes and misjudgements on the part of health officials. He said that in light of all the information the NSW health expert panel had, “the decision to assess the risk of the Ruby Princess as ‘low risk’ – meaning, in effect, ‘do nothing’ – is as inexplicable as it is unjustifiable. It was a serious mistake”.

It should have been assumed there were possible infected passengers “who could transmit the virus and perhaps spark an outbreak of infection, if no steps were taken to prevent or limit that outcome”.

Passengers should not have been allowed to spread through the community until test results were known.

“The delay in obtaining test results for the swabs taken from the Ruby Princess on the morning of 19 March is inexcusable. Those swabs should have been tested immediately,” Walker said.

“The failure to await test results on 19 March is a large factor in this commission’s findings as to the mistakes and misjudgements that caused the scattering of infected passengers.”

Walker criticised the cruise line for not having enough swabs aboard but said, given this, there should have been dockside swabbing.

There has been speculation about whether the Australian Border Force had any responsibility for the disaster, but Walker stressed “neither the ABF nor any ABF officers played any part in the mishap”.

“The relevant legislative provisions make it crystal clear that the Australian Border Force (ABF), despite its portentous title, has no relevant responsibility for the processes by which, by reference to health risks to the Australian community, passengers were permitted to disembark,” he said.

But Walker was blunt about the federal government’s attitude to the inquiry. “The one fly in the ointment so far as assistance to this commission goes, is the stance of the Commonwealth.

"A summons to a Commonwealth officer to attend and give evidence about the grant of pratique for the Ruby Princess was met with steps towards proceedings in the High Court of Australia.

"Quite how this met the prime minister’s early assurance of full cooperation with the commission escapes me.

"This waste of time and resources, when time, in particular, was always pressing, was most regrettable.”

Walker said it seemed a “practical approach was swamped by a determination never to concede, apparently on constitutional grounds, the power of a state parliament to compel evidence to be provided to a state executive inquiry (such as a royal commission or a special commission of inquiry) by the Commonwealth or any of its officers, agencies or authorities.”

Labor’s shadow minister for home affairs, Kristina Keneally, said that on March 15, Morrison had said he was putting in place “bespoke arrangements” for arriving cruise ships.

“He promised cruise ships would be ‘directly under the command of the Australian Border Force’.

"What ‘bespoke arrangements’ did Scott Morrison put in place for arriving cruise ships? This report shows there were none,” Keneally said.

Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Read more https://theconversation.com/ruby-princess-inquiry-blames-nsw-health-officials-for-debacle-144512

Writers Wanted

NZ election 2020: 5 experts on the final debate and the campaign's winners and losers ahead of the big decision

arrow_forward

Meet North Queensland First, the party that wants to kill crocs and form a new state

arrow_forward

3 Ways to Keep Your Business Safe with Roller Shutters

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

3 Ways to Keep Your Business Safe with Roller Shutters

If you operate your business in a neighbourhood or city that is not known for being a safe environment, it is not surprising if you often worry about the safety of your business establishments o...

News Co - avatar News Co

Expert Tips on How to Create a Digital Product to Sell on Your Blog

As the managing director of a growing talent agency, I use the company blog to not only promote my business but as a way to establish ourselves as an authority in our industry. You see, blogs a...

Adam Jacobs - avatar Adam Jacobs

How to Find A company with Tijuana manufacturing

If you have decided to launch a business in Tijuana, there is a need to know about the manufacturing companies. The decision to choose a manufacturing company is not so easy as it looks.   The rig...

News Company - avatar News Company



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion