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Brad Hazzard defends NSW Health ‘learnings’ following Ruby Princess revelations

Article image for Brad Hazzard defends NSW Health ‘learnings’ following Ruby Princess revelations

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard have today responded to the findings of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess.

The report was damning of the role NSW Health played in the disaster which resulted in 28 deaths, saying the “obviously unacceptable outcome could – and should – have been avoided”.

It found the department had made “serious mistakes”, including failure to ensure self-isolation aboard the ship and inform crew of the change to the definition of a ‘suspect case’.

Commissioner Bret Walker SC was explicit in his condemnation of the expert panel, writing “the decision to assess the risk as ‘low risk’ – meaning, in effect, ‘do nothing’ – is as inexplicable as it is unjustifiable.”

Premier Gladys Berejiklian apologised unreservedly, in particular to the 62 people who were infected as secondary contacts of sick passengers and crew, on behalf of those at fault.

She acknowledged the panel’s risk assessment was the clearest and most significant failure, but confirmed there would be no stand-downs.

“Fortunately Mr Walker says, and I want to stress, there weren’t systemic issues. He has full confidence in those agencies continuing to work on the pandemic.

“We have learned so much since those horrible mistakes.

“I am not excusing the mistakes made, because clearly some people should’ve acted differently.”

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard echoed her comments, emphasising the improvements made in the months since.

When asked if he would take ministerial responsibility for those mistakes, Mr Hazzard said he would “rely on Bret Walker’s commentary”.

“There are learnings every day by NSW Health, and those learnings have continue to enable us to get to where we are today, which is … a positive position.

“The Commissioner made it very clear … that he wasn’t recommending disciplinary action.

“We have to have faith in Commissioner Walker’s views.”


Image: Nine News

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