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The final report has also cleared the Australian Border Force, and the department of home affairs, of any responsibility.
Commissioner Bret Walker found that the relevant legislation:
… makes it crystal clear that the Australian Border Force (ABF), despite its portentous title, has no relevant responsibility for the processes by which…passengers were permitted to disembark from the Ruby Princess, as they did, on 19 March 2020.
Given its lack of medical or epidemiological expertise, it is well for the public good that the ABF (and, for that matter, the Department of Home Affairs) do not bear any responsibility for the Ruby Princess mishap.
As this report was being finished, some interesting journalism was published that advanced the notion that a basic misreading by an ABF officer of negative influenza results as meaning negative Covid-19 results, had somehow contributed to the decision to let the passengers go as they did on 19 March. As the body of the Report spells out, that is not correct.
To repeat, neither the ABF nor any ABF officers played any part in the mishap.
Walker did, however, find fault with the federal government, who he says were “the one fly in the ointment” in their assistance, or lack thereof, to the special commission of inquiry.
He excludes the commonwealth’s lawyers from the criticism, in a nice bit of collegial solidarity.
A summons to a Commonwealth officer to attend and give evidence about the grant of pratique for the Ruby Princess was met with steps towards proceedings in the High Court of Australia. Quite how this met the Prime Minister’s early assurance of full co-operation with the commission escapes me.
This waste of time and resources, when time, in particular, was always pressing, was most regrettable.