The Australian Border Force (ABF) strongly refutes claims in Andrew Probyn’s ABC 7:30 reporting today that a senior ABF officer allowed 2,700 people to disembark the Ruby Princess cruise ship after mistakenly believing passengers displaying “flu-like symptoms” had tested negative to COVID-19.
The ABF only has legislative responsibilities for the Customs and Migration Act to clear vessels and people travelling from overseas ports.
No ABF officer had authority to make biosecurity decisions in relation to the Ruby Princess, including about pratique. The ABF responsibility does not include preventing the disembarkation of passengers or crew for human health reasons.
The ABF’s responsibility is to ensure that no one enters Australia with contraband and all passengers and crew are either Australian citizens or have an appropriate visa.
Any misinterpretation by ABF officers of test results did not make a difference as to whether passengers were cleared to disembark the Ruby Princess. Human health is not the responsibility of the ABF.
The continuous criticism of the ABF’s involvement in this matter at this time is unhelpful and distracting as agencies work together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.