The special inquiry into Ruby Princess will have to report without being able to question two key federal officers who helped clear the cruise ship.
The two officials are being shielded by the federal government, despite the key role they allegedly played in allowing 2,700 people to disembark the disease-riddled ship in March.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that commissioner to the inquiry, Bret Walker, had issued a legal summons to hear from one of the officials, a Department of Agriculture worker who gave permission for the ship to enter port, but was refused.
According to the Herald, the Department of Agriculture worker did not complete the checklist required for travellers with illness, which led to errors in a report that gave the ship permission to disembark.
The move has prompted widespread criticism of Prime Minister Scott Morrison who promised the federal government would cooperate with the inquiry. When questioned about why he had not encouraged the two officials to participate, Morrison said the government continued to help with the enquiry.
Since disembarking in Sydney’s Circular Quay on 19 March 2020, the ship has been linked to at least 22 deaths and hundreds of cases of the virus.
This comes as ABC News revealed that a senior ABF officer allowed passengers on board the ship to disembark after mistaking negative results for the common flu with negative results for COVID-19.
The ABF has since refuted these claims and said its officers didn’t have the authority to make biosecurity decisions in relation to the Ruby Princess.
Passengers and their families who were impacted by Ruby Princess outbreak have filed a class action against Princess Cruises, claiming the line breached Australian Consumer Law.
The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess outbreak is expected to deliver its findings on Friday.
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