SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
OVERSEAS PASSENGER TERMINAL, CIRCULAR QUAY
FRIDAY, 31 JULY 2020
SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton need to come clean over the Ruby Princess; Federal Government fighting the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess.
KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: Well, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton need to come clean and they need to come clean today. What these Government documents show is that Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton had been covering up the events that happened on the Ruby Princess.
When Scott Morrison said his Government would “cooperate” with the New South Wales Special Commission of Inquiry, he wasn't telling the truth. It was just another marketing line from Scott Morrison. What these Government documents show is that the Morrison Government has been fighting a legal summons from Bret Walker, the New South Wales Special Commissioner of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess. The Morrison Government has been refusing to allow Federal officials to appear at the Special Commission of Inquiry and to answer questions in public, questions from the Commissioner, about what happened on the Ruby Princess.
Now, what these Government documents reveal is what Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton have been trying to cover up, and that is it was Federal Government officials – Australian Border Force and Federal Department of Agriculture – who were onboard the Ruby Princess in the morning of 19 March. They show that Australian Border Force officials mistook flu tests for COVID tests. They misunderstood that when people tested negative for the flu, they hadn't yet tested negative for coronavirus. These Government documents show that Federal Agriculture officials did not administer the checklist for passengers with illness to detect for coronavirus. And these Government documents show that it is the Australian Border Force that gave the green light, the approval, for people to disembark the Ruby Princess. 2,700 passengers, to leave the Ruby Princess, to spread across Australia, spreading coronavirus.
Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton need to come clean and they need to come clean today. They need to say what they know and when they knew it. They need to explain why the Morrison Government is fighting a legal summons for Federal officials to appear before the New South Wales Special Commission of Inquiry. Today, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, should direct Federal officials to front up to that Special Commission of Inquiry and answer the Commissioner's questions.
But, most importantly, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and Peter Dutton, the Home Affairs Minister, should offer an apology. An apology to the frontline officers, those Australian Border Force officers who were given no training or support to manage a global pandemic aboard cruise ships. To the hundreds of Australians who contracted coronavirus from the Ruby Princess wave. And most importantly, the Prime Minister should apologise to the dozens of Australians whose family members died. Let's not forget here, there are over 30 deaths from the Ruby Princess. That is Australians – mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, brothers, sisters, loved ones who died because of coronavirus aboard the Ruby Princess. The Morrison Government failed to stop this one boat that mattered. For a Government that prides itself on border security, it's time for them to own up to their mistakes. It is time for them to apologise, to apologise for failing to stop the one boat that mattered.