A criminal investigation will be launched into how cruise line operator Carnival Australia was allowed to disembark Ruby Princess passengers in Sydney, resulting in several deaths and COVID-19 outbreaks throughout the country.
“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,” NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said on Sunday.
Fuller told reporters transparency in information regarding patient health on board the cruise ship was a key question for the investigation.
“From my perspective there are many unanswered questions,” he said.
“There seems to be absolute discrepancies between the information provided by Carnival and what I would see is the benchmark for the laws of the federal and state government.”
He said there was clear evidence COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus, had come off the Ruby Princess and at least 10 passengers had died in Australia because of it.
The investigation will cover the actions of the port authority, ambulance, police, the NSW Health department and Carnival Australia.
Carnival Australia responded to Fuller’s announcement on Sunday, offering full cooperation with the investigation.
“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,” a statement read on Sunday.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard is standing behind his staff who had allowed the Ruby Princess cruise ship to disembark in Sydney on March 19, despite knowing the results would be available within hours.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday said Fuller would lead an investigation into the fiasco.
NSW Labor has called for Hazzard to resign over the scandal, with the opposition labelling it “one of the greatest health disasters” in NSW history.
Detective Chief Inspector Jason Dickinson of the NSW Homicide Squad will lead the investigation from Monday and the coroner will be notified.
By Heather McNab and Ashlea Witoslawski. NTD staff contributed to this report.