Royal Commission investigation into 'Ruby Princess disaster' needed, Labor says

Jodi McKay said the failure to adequately screen, test or quarantine some 4000 passengers on the ship was a failure of responsibility,
Jodi McKay said the failure to adequately screen, test or quarantine some 4000 passengers on the ship was a failure of responsibility,

NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay has called for an "independent inquiry with Royal Commission powers" to investigate "the Ruby Princess disaster."

Ms Mckay's call comes after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian charged NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller with the task of investigating how 2700 passengers were allowed to disembark the Ruby Princess cruise ship last month without being tested for the deadly coronavirus.

Ms McKay said the failure to adequately screen, test or quarantine some 4000 passengers on the ship was a failure of responsibility, and that a "narrow Police inquiry" would not be adequate.

The NSW Opposition leader posted on Twitter that: "The Ruby Princess disaster has resulted in 600 cases of COVID-19 in Australia, 340 cases in NSW - and tragically seven deaths, which is more than a quarter of all coronavirus deaths in Australia."

Ms McKay added that as a result of the government's "catastrophic failure," COVID-19 had spread into rural and regional NSW.

NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay at Friday's press conference.

NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay at Friday's press conference.

The NSW Labor leader said the Berejiklian government was to blame as she called for an independent inquiry with royal commission powers.

"That boat sailed into a NSW port and it was NSW Health that was responsible for screening and testing - that didn't happen," she said.

"The Premier has asked the Police Commissioner to look into this - but with the greatest respect to the Commissioner, this goes beyond his remit. It is not a narrow Police inquiry.

"We need an arms-length inquiry into this catastrophic failure of government.

"We propose a retired judge, with the powers of a Special or Royal Commissioner, to subpoena documents and call witnesses."

But NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she does not want to "play the blame game".

"I'll let the police commissioner get to the bottom of it. I don't think it helps anybody to point fingers and play the blame game," she told reporters on Friday.

"Let [Mr Fuller] do his investigations and let him tell us who is responsible."

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese on Friday stressed the Commonwealth controlled Australia's borders when criticising the Morrison government's "diabolical" handling of the Ruby Princess.

"They're responsible for these issues and yet the federal government has refused to take responsibility for it," he told reporters in Sydney.

Mr Albanese urged the NSW and federal governments to stop pointing the finger and concentrate on avoiding a "repeat of this debacle".

with-Australian Associated Press

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This story Royal Commission investigation into 'Ruby Princess disaster' needed, Labor says first appeared on St George & Sutherland Shire Leader.