ABC NEWS By Emma Elsworthy

Several people walking past a large ship, as the Sydney Harbour Bridge can be seen in the background
 

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has confirmed it received a concerned phone call from the state port authority about the Ruby Princess, hours before the cruise ship was due to dock.

Key points:

  • The Ruby Princess has been at the centre of a blame game between the ABF and the NSW Government
  • The ABF maintains NSW Health cleared the ill-fated vessel to dock in Sydney
  • The vessel has been linked to hundreds of COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths

The NSW Port Authority contacted the ABF in the early hours of March 19 and expressed "concern in relation to the health of the passengers".

The ABF said in a statement today the cruise ship was cleared to dock by NSW Health.

"The ABF officer made internal enquiries and subsequently advised the NSW Port Authority that the vessel had been cleared by NSW Health," an ABF statement said.

A report from Nine newspapers said the ABF officer instructed a Sydney harbour master to allow the ship to dock.

The ABF clarified it "did not seek to shape or influence any view or decision by the NSW Port Authority".

"This is not ABF's role," the statement said.

The Ruby Princess has been linked to multiple clusters of coronavirus cases in NSW and interstate since its 2,700 passengers alighted the ship without proper isolation protocol in place.

Fifteen deaths and at least 600 cases of COVID-19 have been officially linked to the cruise liner, meaning it is the single biggest source of coronavirus infections in Australia. 

 

When asked about who bore culpability last month for the ship docking in Sydney, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian responded, "all of us have to take responsibility".

But on March 25, ABF Commissioner Michael Outram said the NSW health department had given the green light for passengers to disembark, despite several people on board being tested for coronavirus.

"The Department of Agriculture officials advised my officers that NSW Health had conducted a risk assessment, had rated the risk as low and that health officials would not be attending the vessel," he said.

"As a result of that information, all of the passengers were given a green light to disembark."

Earlier this week, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller announced the commencement of a criminal investigation into the communications and actions that led to the ship's docking and disembarking.

 

More than 30 officers from State Crime, Counter-Terrorism and Special Tactics and Marine Area Commands have begun investigating the Ruby Princess debacle.

Investigators will interview high-priority witnesses in coming days, but they urged those with relevant information to contact Crime Stoppers.

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  • Current system selects for turkeys who can't see the big picture but mindlessly follow technicalities. Often the cause big stuff ups when the technicalities are out of context.

    Let me guess the applied their risk assessment algorithm and got low risk and the guidelines said no intervention. Never mind that any fool who stood back and looked at the big picture could tell that this was high risk. This was late in the game and well known that cruise ships were coronavirus incubators and if one was positive then many were. And that it was likely that one was positive.

    • You are correct WEC.

      When I was at work and people said 'when we ran a risk assessment", I would automatically ask can I see it.

      Usually, it meant, there wasn't one and they made the decision in their head.

      Secondly, if they did show there is usually many flaws due to it being quite simplistic or the indicators are weighted incorrectly or it was just a tick and flick exercise.

      Thirdly from a professional point of view, they properly haven't even asked the right question. In other word did they first look at the threat or they haven't collected data and spoken to people at the coal face. 

      I could go on and on, but I will leave it at that. 

       

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