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4 days ago
New documents reveal Federal Government officials gave permission for Ruby Princess passengers to disembark, frontline officers misinterpreted crucial test results, and the Morrison Government has tried to cover up their fateful mistakes.
The revelations come from evidence tendered to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess and documents – including internal Australian Border Force (ABF) emails – released under Freedom of Information laws.
The evidence and documents show:
  • The ABF and Department of Agriculture allowed Ruby Princess passengers to disembark before receiving any advice from the NSW Department of Health on the potential health risks onboard the boat;
  • ABF – not NSW Health –were onboard the Ruby Princess the morning of 19 March and gave permission for passengers to disembark;
  • Federal Department of Agriculture human biosecurity officers - not NSW Health - were also on board the Ruby Princess and failed to conduct new health checks specifically designed for Agriculture officers to use to detect COVID-19; and
  • Tragically, ABF officers incorrectly read the tests results for sick passengers on the Ruby Princess – mistaking negative flu test results for negative COVID-19 test results before allowing passengers to disembark.
The Morrison Government has also been caught trying to cover up their mistakes by refusing a summons for Federal officials to appear at the NSW Special Inquiry – despite the Prime Minister saying his Government would cooperate fully. 
On 15 March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said arriving cruise ships would be “directly under the command of the Australian Border Force”. Four days later, on 19 March the Ruby Princess arrived in Sydney, and 2700 passengers were allowed to freely leave the boat.
Since the Ruby Princess arrived in Sydney, the Prime Minister and Peter Dutton have taken no responsibility for failing to stop the one boat that mattered – one boat which spread COVID-19 across Australia and is responsible for over 30 tragic deaths.
The Australian Border Force realised their grave mistakes on the 20 March. The Morrison Government needs to come clean today – what did they know and when did they know it?
The Morrison Government must make Federal officials available for questioning at the NSW Special Inquiry and clarify any incorrect or misleading evidence given to the Senate COVID-19 Committee.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison needs to apologise for failing to stop the one boat that mattered.
He needs to apologise to the hundreds of Australians who contracted COVID-19 because of the Ruby Princess – as well as the family members of the Australians who have tragically lost their lives.
And, he needs to apologise to the frontline officers from the ABF and Agriculture who, despite the Prime Minister’s promises to protect our borders, did nothing to provide these hard working Australians with the resources, training or funding to deal with the risks of cruise ships, like the Ruby Princess.
All these Australians deserve an apology from the Prime Minister.