Showing posts with label Morrison Government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Morrison Government. Show all posts

Friday, 16 October 2020

For over 6 years the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government deliberately underspent funds earmarked to assist unemployed people 50 years of age & older

 

On 11 July 2014 then Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Warringah Tony Abbott launched the Restart programme.


Restart is a financial incentive of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) to encourage businesses to hire and retain mature age employees who are 50 years of age and over.


Payments are made by employment services providers to businesses over six months. Employers can negotiate how often they receive the payments.


Business may also be able to get up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) when they hire an eligible new employee who is either: 15 - 24 years of age or an Indigenous Australian.

To apply for this financial incentive businesses need to contact a job service provider on the federal Dept. of Education, Skills and Employment list of approved providers.

Employment services providers determine if a wage subsidy is offered and will enter into an agreement with the employer to make payments over six months.

All wage subsidy placements must average at least 20 hours per week over the 26 week wage subsidy period to be ongoing.

Restart has continued to operate under three successive Liberal-National federal governments.

On 14 October 2020 The Guardian reported that:

The federal government has spent less than half what it planned to help older Australians into work and more than 40% of those receiving wage subsidies were out of a job within three months.

Only $254m has been spent to help 51,190 mature-age people into work, despite the Coalition promising in 2014 to spend $520m to help up to 32,000 older Australians find a job every year.

Of the 51,190 people helped by the Restart wage subsidy, just 30,379 remained in employment for 13 weeks or more, with less than half (21,966) lasting more than six months.

The figures, provided by the employment department, cast new light on the effectiveness of the program cited by the Morrison government as evidence it is already helping older workers…..

In the budget, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, announced $4bn of wage subsidies for companies that hire workers aged 35 and under, prompting a backlash that the budget contained no new measures for older workers.

In response, Scott Morrison has said the Restart program, which provides $10,000 wage subsidies for those aged over 50 and unemployed for six months or more, had helped 50,000 Australians into a job.

In the 2014 budget, the Abbott government provided $520m for the Restart program…..

On Tuesday, the employment department revealed that, up to 31 August this year, just $254m had been spent on the program….



Monday, 12 October 2020

Morrison Government ignores the "Pink Recession" in Budget 2020-21

 

"Women drive on roads. They will benefit from our infrastructure spend" [in Budget 2020-21]. [Senator Michaelia Cash, Channel 10 clip in The Project program, 8 October 2020]


The Guardian, 8 October 2020:


The prime minister, Scott Morrison, is angry with women. Not all of us, just those making a fuss about the woeful lack of attention to women’s workforce participation, economic security and safety in the budget his treasurer handed down on Tuesday night.


After early childhood education advocate and journalist Georgie Dent published an article in Women’s Agenda pointing out that the biggest-spending budget in history had allocated roughly a third of 1% of its funds for women’s economic security (citing a figure I tweeted from the Per Capita account during the budget presentation on Tuesday night), she received a call from the PM’s office to complain that “no one credible” was making such a complaint, and that “nothing in the budget is gendered”.


To quote one famous working woman: big mistake. Big. Huge.


Within a couple of hours, the hashtag #CredibleWomen was born, and soon trending in Australia. Twenty-four hours later, more than 1,000 very angry, and highly credible, women and men had joined the fray, including prominent journalists and commentators, business leaders, former federal politicians, economists and sociologists, and even the family members of former prime ministers, both Labor and Liberal. So much for no one credible.


As for the claim that nothing in the budget was gendered – that’s the point. Proudly declaring that no gender analysis was done on the budget reveals a disturbing ignorance of the inherent bias in our economic system, and a fundamental confusion between the concepts of equality and equity. A budget that treats everyone equally, ignoring the fact that women start from a place of significant disadvantage on almost every meaningful economic measure, simply entrenches gender inequality and, in light of the disproportionate impact of the current recession on women, actually risks sending us backwards.


The fact is, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic collapse have hit women particularly hard. While previous recessions were typified by declining aggregate demand for manufactured goods and services, the current downturn is marked by a partial or total shutdown of many service industries, which are dominated by female workers.


Social distancing restrictions have resulted in an unparalleled collapse in demand, which has had an immediate impact on sectors of the market unused to bearing the brunt of economic shocks, with widespread jobs losses in retail, entertainment and hospitality. Universities, too, are shedding jobs at an alarming rate, and many of the jobs in research, teaching and administration that have been lost will not return even if and when international students do.


As a result, unemployment for women in this Covid-induced economic collapse is double that of the 1990s recession. While women suffered roughly 25% of all job losses in the early 1990s, they account for more than 50% of the newly unemployed today.


A budget that treats everyone equally ... simply entrenches gender inequality”


Yet the Morrison government seems to have failed to come to grips with the different nature of this recession compared to previous downturns, or to have grasped the significant changes in our labour market over the three decades since Australia last faced the task of rebuilding a shattered economy. The budget released on Tuesday night was a fine plan for recovery from the recession of the early 1990s, but not so much for the one we face today…..


The full article can be read here.


BACKGROUND


According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Labor Force original data, in December 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic had entered the country, the female workforce participation rate was 61.6 per cent and total number of unemployed females was 295,100 individuals.


A Parliamentary Budget Report found that 56 per cent of those unemployed females were women aged 45 years and older.


By end of August 2020 the female workforce participation rate was 59.7 per cent - a 3 per cent participation fall. While the unemployment figure had grown to 418,600 females of working force age – a 29 per cent increase in unemployment.


In December 2019 the male workforce participation rate was 71.4 per cent and the total number of unemployed males was 371,600 individuals.


Of these unemployed males 45 per cent were men aged 45 years and older.


By end of August 2020 male workforce participation rate was 69.4 per cent a 3 per cent  participation fall. While the unemployment figure has risen to 503,000 males of working force age - a 26 per cent increase in unemployment. 


Comparing total females and males who considered themselves underemployed between December 2019 and August 2020:


  • Underemployed females totalled 690,200 workers in December 2019 and 753,200 workers in August 2020 - an est. 9 per cent increase in underemployment over the 9 month period; and
  • Underemployed males totalled 503,000 workers in December 2019 and 723,300 workers in August 2020 - an est. 31 per cent increase in underemployment.

Females in employment worked a combined total of 736,643,500 hours in December 2019 and a total of 702,547,200 hours in August 2020 - an est. 5 per cent fall in hours worked. 


Males in employment worked a combined total of 1,044,184,200 hours in December 2019 and a total of 980,844,400 hours in August 2020 - an est. 6 per cent fall.


When breaking that down further by looking at the percentage of females who had between 35-44 hours paid work a week it was 32.1% of all employed females, with another 19.8 per cent working less than 20 hours. While for males receiving 34-44 hours of paid work a week it was 42.1 per cent of all employed males, with another 11.1 per cent working under 20 hours a week.


Overall since the impact of the COVID-19 begun to be felt both males and females experienced swings and roundabouts when it came to employment. 


However, compared with men, over the last decade a higher proportion of unemployed women are now either older women, have a reduced capacity to work, are carers or sole parents. 


While the bottom line is that despite the JobKeeper subsidised wage program, at the end of the last 9 months there are still more females out of work than there are males in the same predicament and more employed females than males with less than a full week's work.


When it came to ABS records for industry sectors with the highest job losses year-to-year it was clear highest losses occurred in sectors with traditionally high female employment levels:


JUNE 2019 to JUNE 2020


Accommodation - jobs down 25.5 per cent

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services - jobs down 15.6 per cent

Clubs, pubs, taverns and bars - jobs down 15.6 per cent

Tourism - jobs down 15.1 per cent

Travel agency and information centre services - 17.9 per cent

Retail Trade - jobs down 9.0 per cent.


Tourism jobs peaked at 748,200 in December 2019 and in June 2020 were at the lowest level (611,700) since June 2014. More females work in tourism than males so there were more jobs lost by females with a reduction of 88,100 (-21.5%) jobs compared to a fall of 48,300 (-14.3%) for males.


The Australian Treasury is reportedly predicting that unemployment will remain high for several years, but that it will peak at 8% in the December quarter of 2020. However, indications are that unemployment will not fall below 5 per cent until sometime after 2024.  


It is statistics such as these which have led to political commentators dubbing the current economic recession In Australia, the "pink recession" or "shecession".


Terms with which Scott Morrison appears to take great exception. Women it seems are never to speak up on economic matters unless it is to agree with his world view.


According to Taylor Fry Consulting Actuaries' research, by 29 August 2020 in the Clarence Valley the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was rated "Medium" for most of the valley but at the upper end of "High" was Maclean-Iluka-Yamba which are heavily dependent on tourism.


As it is for Byron Bay where the impact was also rated at the upper limit of "High", while the remainder of the Northern Rivers region was at the lower limit of "High" with the exception of Kyogle and Casino which were rated "Medium".


In 2019 the NSW Northern Rivers region had a resident population of est. 304,325 people with a high number of older residents. In fact at the last Census around 133,332 were aged between 50 and 100 years of age.


In 2020 the Northern New South Wales Local Health District data indicated that females made up 49.22 per cent of the regional population - with est. 30 per cent of that regional population being females of workforce age.


That's an awful lot of Northern Rivers women Scott Morrison & his Cabinet have chosen to brush aside in the worst recession in 30 years.


Sunday, 20 September 2020

Around 10% of the Australian workforce are temporary migrants and overseas students - what help are we giving then during the COVID-19 pandemic?


UNSW Newsroom, media release, 17 September 2020:

A nationwide survey of more than 6000 international students and other temporary migrants conducted in July 2020 has found 70% lost all or most of their work during the pandemic. 

Thousands have been left unable to pay for food and rent. These migrants make up 10% of the Australian workforce. 

As if we weren’t humans: The abandonment of temporary migrants in Australia during COVID-19 is the latest report from UNSW Law Associate Professor Bassina Farbenblum and UTS Law Associate Professor Laurie Berg, co-directors of the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative

The survey revealed more than half the respondents (57%) believe their financial stress will deepen by year’s end, with one in three international students forecasting their funds will run out by October. Thousands expressed anguish and anger over the federal government’s decision to exclude temporary migrants from JobKeeper and JobSeeker support. 

Beyond their immediate humanitarian plight, hundreds linked their distress to the Prime Minister’s message that those unable to support themselves should “make [their] way home”. They expressed feelings of abandonment and worthlessness: “like we do not exist”, “they don’t see us. They can’t hear us”. 

In addition, a quarter experienced verbal racist abuse and a quarter reported people avoiding them because of their appearance. More than half of Chinese respondents reported experiencing either or both of these. 

“Over 1600 participants described being targeted with xenophobic slurs, treated as though they were infected with COVID because they looked Asian, or harassed for wearing a face mask”, says A/Prof. Farbenblum. 

“Many reported that because of their Asian appearance they were punched, hit, kicked, shoved, deliberately spat at or coughed on by passers-by in the street and on public transport.” 

For example, one female Vietnamese student said: “People were saying some racist comments and pushed me, saying that I was the reason for COVID and I should go away.” Another Chinese student said: “I have been harassed by teenagers and throwing eggs on my way home from school”. 

While previous studies have documented aspects of the financial hardship of temporary migrants, this is the first study that reveals the depth of social exclusion, racism and deeper emotional consequences of Australia’s policies, which have significantly impacted Australia’s global reputation. 

Following their pandemic experience, three in five international students, graduates and working holiday makers are now less likely or much less likely to recommend Australia as a place to study or have a working holiday. This includes important education markets such as Chinese and Nepalese students (76% and 69% respectively were now less likely to recommend Australia). 

“I feel [the] Australian government doesn't think of temporary visa holders as human beings but merely a money-making machine,” said one female Indian international student. “It’s appalling to see the PM consoling the citizens saying that we are all in this together but at the same time telling migrants to go back home in a pandemic.” 

Another international Master’s student observed, “It's completely hypocritical that we’re important for tax purposes, and in the sense that we contribute billions of dollars to the economy as university fees, but are treated as some breed of untouchables”. 

A/Prof. Berg says that Australia will bear the diplomatic and economic consequences of these policies for decades to come: 

“Many of those suffering in Australia now will return home to become leaders in business and politics, holding roles of social influence around the region. Their experiences during this period will not be quickly forgotten.” 

Read the full report.

Excerpt from the report: 

Current sources of financial support are deeply inadequate to meet need

Since the first lockdown in March, a third (33%) of all respondents indicated they had sought emergency support to meet their essential needs (37% of international students).

Charities and others provided food, one-off cash payments and other forms of emergency relief, but education providers were the source of the overwhelming majority of support received.

Education provider support was limited to one-off payments, mostly to university students, among whom a quarter (26%) received support. Only one in ten students (11%) at private colleges received support. The overwhelming majority of those who received support got a one-off payment of under $1000.

The Red Cross provided support to 2% of respondents. Two thirds of these were international students, among whom 68% received a one-off payment of $500 or less.

State governments provided support to 4% of respondents, almost all of whom were international students.

Close to a third (29%) indicated they did not seek emergency support because they were worried it might affect their visa. Visa concerns were a more common barrier among college students (33%) than university students (27%), and even more common for graduates (38%). Surprisingly, visa concerns were also identified by considerable proportions of TSS visa holders (26%).


Thursday, 3 September 2020

Morrison Government believes that warehousing older Australians until they die is the appropriate function of aged care in Australia?


An estimated 221,300 people in Australia entered aged care services between 2009–10 and 2018–19. 

Months before the COVID-19 global pandemic hit, in fact on 31 October 2019, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety published an interim report titled "Neglect" which stated in the foreword:

As a nation, Australia has drifted into an ageist mindset that undervalues older people and limits their possibilities. Sadly, this failure to properly value and engage with older people as equal partners in our future has extended to our apparent indifference towards aged care services. Left out of sight and out of mind, these important services are floundering. They are fragmented, unsupported and underfunded. With some admirable exceptions, they are poorly managed. All too often, they are unsafe and seemingly uncaring. This must change..... 

We have found that the aged care system fails to meet the needs of our older, often very vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care for older people. It is unkind and uncaring towards them. In too many instances, it simply neglects them.

A little over nine months later this is the Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison's opinion of the aged care system his government administers. 

 Financial Review, 14 August 2020:

"On the days that the system falls short, on the days that expectations are not met, I'm deeply sorry about that. Of course I am," the Prime Minister said.

"I know that everyone who is involved in the process who is trying to meet those expectations is equally sorry.

"I think we’ve got to have a reality check about this. I think that it’s great that Australians have high expectations.”….

Mr Morrison said the cohort of Australians seeking aged care had changed significantly since Howard government-era controversies, including revelations of residents being bathed in diluted kerosene.

"We're dealing with a system that is now dealing with a very different demand.

"It is very much at a stage of pre-palliative care. And that is a very different proposition in terms of the facilities, the workforce, the clinical needs, to what it was 10 years ago.

"The system needs to be adjusted to meet that."

This is what his Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians & Liberal Senator for Tasmania Richard Colbeck stated on the floor of the Senate on 31 August 2020:

"There are about 60,000 Australians who die in residential aged care on an annual basis unfortunately, but that's one of the functions of residential aged care." 

Here are some social media comments from older Australians and their families concerning the predominately for profit wharehousing being endorsed and funded by the federal government:

"As older woman something struck me after conversation with other local women in my age group. Everyone expressed horror of residential aged care. Some have told children they do not want this to happen, some expressed an intention to suicide - active or passive. Australia 2020".

"So agree".

"Exactly my sentiments, I've told my children not to ever consider putting me into residential care. I'd rather find a good drug dealer or Euthanasia Medical Specialist to take care of things."

"My 87 year old Mum agrees. Been in the family home for over 50 years, says the only way she'll leave is feet first."

"I certainly will if faced with the prospect of incarceration in one of these hellholes".

"Told my sister and her kids to take me up the back paddock and shoot me before going this way."

"Absolutely, older women I know are all going to "take care of it" for themselves, when the time is right and won't be told what to do and when by others but are afraid they may not have the capacity or the means to do it for themselves they are afraid."

"I’ve had this conversation with my mother. She begged me, in tears, and told me she’d ‘sort it out’ if it came to that."

"Nearly 70 and still in own home. Will NOT go into aged care. Am first generation that can see what “living forever” via meds etc looks like and really has little appeal for me. Voluntary end of life must be looked at but anyone choosing nursing home has absolute right to decency."

"I'm 40, and have worked in an aged care home. I have also told my kids not to put me in a home, that I would rather die with some dignity."

"My mum told me to knock her on the head with a frying pan. I told her I wouldn’t go to jail for her, she could just live with me. Aged care has been a disgrace for decades. It is a genuine fear for seniors & a heartache & fear for families with no other choice."

"Once I'm passed looking after myself is when it's time to go. Seen to much damage done by evil neglect to those who are forced to live past their "best before" date." 

"My parents, who are in their 80s, have both said that they would rather suicide than go into an Aged Care home. I have told them that they can move in with us and we will get the in-home care that they need, but they won't consider this. It makes me sad, but I understand them."


BACKGROUND

Residential aged care for the 221,300:

More than two-thirds of these were an admission into residential care—this was split between permanent (almost 70,000) and respite care (over 83,500).
Of all people entering aged care, around 1 in 5 people were admitted to home care (almost 43,800) and 1 in 10 were admitted to transition care (over 24,000).
Almost 60,800 people were admitted to permanent residential aged care for the first time in 2018–19. [Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, GEN aged care data]

In 2017-18:

More than 3,000 aged care providers in Australia deliver care through nearly 9,000 services (outlets). The sector comprises private (for-profit) providers alongside community-based and charitable providers, and state and territory and local government providers. The mix of ownership type varies across programs, with the largest proportion of for-profit services in the residential care program (41% of residential aged care places are managed by for-profit providers).

Collectively, these services supported the care needs of more than 1.2 million people in 2017–18, at a total cost to governments of $18.4 billion. Consumers may also be asked to contribute to the cost of care. In residential aged care, for example, the cost to governments in 2016–17 was $12.1 billion, and residents contributed a further $4.7 billion (ACFA 2018). [AIHW , Aged Care Snapshot, 11 September 2019]
  • In 1997-98, the average age of entry into residential care for females was 82.8 years; by 2008-09 this had increased to 84.3 years. For males, over the same period, the average age of entry into residential care increased from 79.5 years to 81.6 years.
  • In 2000-01, the average age of people admitted to Community Aged Care Packages was 79.7 years. By 2009-10, this had increased to 81.4 years. Between 2003-04 and 2009-10 the average age of people admitted to Extended Aged Care at Home Packages increased from 80.8 years to 82.2 years.
In June 2018 the majority of older people in residential aged care were 75 years and over – 81% of all men and 90.5% of all women [Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, GEN aged care data]

Fourteen years ago the bi-annual proportion of persons over 65 years of age dying in residential aged care in Australia was estimated at between 34% (high level care only) to 53% (including both high and low level of care plus respite care). [Broad, J.B. et al, 2015, Likelihood of residential aged care use in later life: a simple approach to estimation with international comparison, p.3]

The Minister:

The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 August 2020:

Colbeck was appointed to the Senate in 2002 to fill a vacancy. In 2016 he lost his seat after being demoted to fifth place on the Coalition ticket in Tasmania, but unexpectedly returned in February 2018 after the parliamentary eligibility crisis forced Stephen Parry, a dual British citizen, to resign.

The Prime Minister:

The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 October 2009: 

Towke won easily. On the first ballot, he polled 10 times as many votes as Morrison, 82 votes to 8, who was eliminated in the first round. His victory meant that a Lebanese Australian would represent the Liberal Party in the seat where the Cronulla riot and revenge raids had taken place 18 months earlier, in December 2005. ''The campaign against me started four days after preselection,'' Towke said.....

Though Towke would eventually win his legal war, the damage had been done. The adverse media coverage set in train a reaction within the party to get rid of him. A second ballot was ordered, in which the balance of power was shifted away from the grassroots in Cook and to the state executive. The second ballot gave the preselection to Scott Morrison. Amazing. He had been parachuted into the seat over Towke's political carcass. Morrison clearly had backers who wanted him to get the seat. ''These guys were prepared to ruin my life,'' Towke said.

Monday, 24 August 2020

Morrison and Berejiklian Governments appear to be moving towards removing the moratorium on uranium mining & nuclear power generation in NSW - with the North Coast likely to be in their sights


With the exception of a research nuclear reactor operating in New South Wales, a moratorium on nuclear energy is in place in Australia which prohibits the construction or operation of nuclear power plants.

Federal Parliament created the ban in 1998, and the moratorium has remained in place with bipartisan support ever since.

However, if the federal Minister for Energy and Emissions & Liberal MP for Hume, Angus Taylor, NSW Deputy-Premier & Nationals MLA for Monaro, John Barilaro, and One Nation state MLC, Mark Latham, have their way this may change soon with regard to New South Wales.

Following a referral from the Minister for Energy and Emissions, the Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy resolved on 6 August 2019 to conduct an Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia. On 13 December 2019 the Committee presented its report.

The NSW Berejiklian Government is reported to be supporting Mark Latham's private member's bill to lift the state moratorium on nuclear energy production.

The Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibitions) Repeal Bill 2019 was introduced and had its first reading in the NSW Legislative Assembly on 6 June 2020.

A subsequent NSW Legislative Council inquiry stacked with pro-uranium members recommended that the state ban on nuclear mining and power be lifted - concluding that nuclear energy is "a viable possibility for the State's future generation needs". The Berejiklian Government response to this recommendation is due on 4 September 2020.

The state electorates of Coffs Harbour, Clarence, Myall Lakes, Port Macquarie and Oxley are among a dozen areas previously identified by nuclear lobby group Nuclear for Climate Australia as prime locations for reactors.

All these North Coast electorates are currently held by NSW Nationals. Temporary Speaker Gurmesh Singh in Coff Harbour, Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Roads and Infrastructure Chris Gulaptis in Clarence, Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Transport Stephen Bromhead in Myall Lakes, Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Leslie Williams in Port Macquarie and Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey in Oxley.

Recently the shadowy Nuclear for Climate Australia has been telling the federal parliament that the silent majority in regional Australia are in favour or have a positive opinion of nuclear power - even those in regional branches of the Labor Party [House of Representative Standing Committee on Environment and Energy, Inquiry on the Prerequisites for Nuclear Energy in Australia, submission, 13 September 2019].

NSW State Labor parliamentarians Walt Secord and Janelle Saffin have vowed to work together to fight One Nation senator Mark Latham’s legislation to set up a nuclear power industry in NSW.

Mr. Secord is Shadow Minister for the North Coast and Upper House deputy Opposition leader and Ms. Saffin is the MLA for LIsmore in the Northern Rivers region.

Secord and Saffin say that Mark Latham’s bill follows a push last year by Nationals leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro, to establish a nuclear power industry in NSW. They also say that Mr Barilaro also completed a taxpayer-funded visit to the United States where he was drumming up interest in US investors to build nuclear reactors in NSW. At the time, 18 sites were identified as possible sites for nuclear power plants in NSW– including a 250km stretch of coast from Port Macquarie to north of Grafton.

Communities in the Northern Rivers need to begin considering a response to the threats posed by any lifting of the moratorium.

BACKGROUND

Plan envisages 18 Reactors being constructed in NSW by 2040
https://nuclearforclimate.com.au/nsw-regions/

Monday, 17 August 2020

When it docked in Sydney, NSW, cruise ship "Ruby Princess" & its more than 4,000 passengers and crew were primarily the responsibility of the federal Morrison Coalition Government - but almost no-one gets off unscathed in recently published NSW Commission of Inquiry report


"The human consequences of the scattering upon disembarkation have not yet played out. That is the salient feature of an uneliminated infectious pandemic." [Report: Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess, 14 August 2020]

Evidence of human-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (as COVID-19) emerged almost immediately following the discovery of the virus in Wuhan, China in early January 2020.

On 6 January 2020 a traveler returning by air from China arrived in Sydney, New South Wales, carrying the COVID-19 viral infection.

As the global pandemic grew so did the number of factors to be considered when implementing infection controls.

By early February 2020 concerns were being raised around the world concerning the number of international cruise ships which potentially might be carrying infected passengers.

As of 19 March 2020 the number of confirmed COVID19 cases in the NSW totaled 307 and community concern was mounting.

The “Ruby Princess” - a foreign-owned cruise ship which has capacity for 3,080 passengers and 1,200 crew members - docked in Sydney to board and disembark passengers from its 24 February to 8 March 2020 and 8 March to 19 March 2020 voyages. 


When it entered Sydney Harbour it became a Commonwealth responsibility under federal statutes; Customs Act 1901, Migration Act 1958, Australian Border Force Act 2015 and Biosecurity Act 2015 (an act which in part addresses human biosecurity and whose provisions are administer by the federal departments of Health & Agriculture, Water and the Environment).

By 19 March it was suspected that a number of passengers and crew might possibly have contracted the highly virulent COVID-19 infection.

Five days before the ship's docking Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison had informed the general public that Border Force had implemented measures to screen incoming cruise ships for the coronavirus - "In specific cases where we have Australians on cruise ships then there will be some bespoke arrangements that will be put in place directly under the command of the Australian Border Force to ensure the relevant protections are put in place".

However, it seems that the "Ruby Princess" was exempt from some of Morrison's so-called "bespoke arrangements", in that it had permission to come into Sydney when as a safety measure it should have been refused permission until after 15 April 2020.  It was exempt because it had departed a port outside of Australian waters before midnight on 15 March 2020. 

So, despite the prime minister’s statement on the morning of 19 March 2020 at least 2,700 passengers – a mix of Australian nationals and overseas visitors - were allowed to disembark in Sydney without being screened for the virus.

This mass disembarkation was the direct result of the NSW Dept. of Health Expert Panel classifying the "Ruby Princess" as 'low risk', together with an ongoing failure of a federal department to fully perform its legislated biosecurity functions and, finally verbal permission being given by an unauthorised Border Force official for all passengers to leave the ship on that morning.

With Border Force refusing to release cruise passenger details to airlines, there was no way of tracking passengers once they had left the ship and so infected passengers spread out across the state, across Australia and then by air across the world as oveseas travellers returned home.
Ruby Princess passengers dispersed around the world in the days after it docked. Some of them later displayed coronavirus symptoms.(ABC News: Emma Machan) 


It has been calculated that at least 662 "Ruby Princess" passengers contracted COVID-19 and over time 26 of these died.

By the time the "Ruby Princess" sailed out of Sydney on 23 April 2020 it was thought to be responsible for about one in every ten existing COVID-19 cases in Australia.

An est. 183 crew members were also thought to have become infected.

On 15 April 2020 the NSW Berejiklian Government created a Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess.

The Morrison Government did not assist the Inquiry in that it refused to allow a federal bureaucrat to answer any summons received from the Inquiry.

Indeed a summons to a Commonwealth officer to attend and give evidence about the grant of pratique for the "Ruby Princess" resulted in steps being taken towards proceedings in the High Court of Australia.

The Inquiry was due to report the the NSW Governor and Premier by 14 August 2020.

Report: Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess, 14 August 2020, can be read and downloaded at:


This report contains a litany of errors at federal, state and cruise ship operator level, as well as uncovering deficiencies in current legislation and regulations.