On 15 April 2020, the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess was established. The Special Commission will be led by Bret Walker SC.
The letters patent issued by the Governor to Bret Walker SC under the Special Commissions of Inquiry Act 1983 (NSW) are available here.
The terms of reference for the Special Commission, set out in the letters patent, require the Commissioner to inquire into and report on:
- The knowledge, decisions and actions of Ruby Princess crew, medical staff and the ship operator, Princess Cruises, with respect to cases or potential cases of respiratory infections on the ship.
- The information provided to, communications between, and decisions and actions of Commonwealth and NSW agencies, including the Australian Border Force, the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, NSW Health, the NSW Police Force, NSW Ambulance and the Port Authority of NSW.
- Policies and protocols applied by Princess Cruises and Commonwealth and NSW Government agencies with respect to managing suspected or potential COVID-19 cases.
- Communications by Commonwealth and NSW Government agencies to passengers disembarking the Ruby Princess.
- Any other related matters that the Commissioner considers appropriate.
In conducting the Inquiry, the Commissioner is to have regard to the global COVID-19 pandemic and:
- the departure from Sydney of the Ruby Princess on 8 March 2020;
- the voyage of the Ruby Princess between 8 March and 19 March 2020;
- the docking and disembarkation of the Ruby Princess at Sydney on 19 March 2020; and
- subsequent efforts to diagnose and treat, and to contain the community transmission of COVID-19 by, Ruby Princess passengers.
The Special Commission has been given special powers under Division 2 of Part 3 of the Special Commissions of Inquiry Act 1983 (NSW) to conduct the Inquiry.
The Commissioner must report to the Premier and the Governor by 14 August 2020.