CRUISE company Carnival Australia says it will fully cooperate with any investigation concerning coronavirus and how infected passengers were allowed to disembark the Ruby Princess at Sydney Harbour.
The disembarkations have since been linked with a number of coronavirus fatalities.
Early arguments focused on the roles of New South Wales Health and the Australian Border Force, but NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has since talked of the actions of those in charge of the cruise ship.
Commissioner Mick Fuller told a press conference there were “many unanswered questions” about the cruise.
“There seems to be absolute discrepancies between the information provided by Carnival and what I would see as the benchmark for the laws that the federal government and the state government put in place in terms of protecting Australians from cruise ships when coronavirus had started,” Commissioner Fuller was quoted as saying.
“The only way I can get to the bottom of whether our national biosecurity laws and our state laws were broken is through a criminal investigation.”
A Carnival Australia spokesman confirmed they had seen the announcement by the Police Commissioner.
“In addition to willingly participating in the investigation, Carnival Australia will vigorously respond to any allegations of which there must now be full disclosure and the basis for them,” the spokesman said.
While there have been demands for cruise ships to leave for foreign ports, others have spoken in its defence, with Port of Brisbane CEO Roy Cummins saying Australian authorities had to avoid making an unhappy situation worse and pointing to the cruise sector having been a “quality corporate citizen” for almost a century.
Meanwhile the International Transport Workers’ Federation called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to do the “right thing” for thousands of seafarers on cruise vessels off the coast of Australia.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said he wrote to Mr Morrison appealing to him to show the same humanity to the men and women working onboard the cruise ships off the coast of Australia as he has expressed needs to be shown to cruise passengers.
Meanwhile ITF cruise ship task force chair Johan Øyen said the current situation was unsustainable.
“Seafarers have the right to be treated with the same decency and dignity as everyone else. Governments have to ‘do the right thing’ and ensure that the thousands of men and women that have provided their services to the world’s cruise passengers are shown the same compassion and be allowed to return home,” he said.
Ruby Princess to Port Kembla
Meanwhile New South Wales Ports has issued a statement confirming it will be providing berth and port facilities for Ruby Princess at Port Kembla following a direction from Commissioner Fuller to assist the State of New South Wales with its response to the coronavirus.
This was said to be to facilitate medical treatment of the crew.
The Ruby Princess currently has only crew on board (zero passengers), with a number of the crew unwell with coronavirus.
“Crew will not disembark unless permitted by the Public Health (COVID-19 Maritime Quarantine) Order 2020 issued by the Minister for Health and Medical Research under the Public Health Act 2010,” NSW Ports said in a statement.
“All activities at berth and the transfer of unwell crew members to hospital will be overseen by NSW Police and NSW Health.
“Strict protocols and procedures will be in place at all times to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all workers involved and the wider community.”