Scott Morrison has described the tough questioning of the NSW health official who was reduced to tears under questioning over the Ruby Princess fiasco as “distressing” and “out of line”.
Warning health officials are “not perfect” he has urged the inquiry’s commissioner Bret Walker SC, who is leading the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess cruise ship fiasco, to reflect on this.
The cruise ship has become the largest single source of COVID-19 cases in Australia after its 2,700 passengers disembarked in Sydney on March 19.
It has so far been linked to more than 660 cases and 21 deaths.
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Epidemiologist Kelly-Anne Ressler sobbed in the witness box on Tuesday as she was asked if “reprehensible shortcoming” by the department allowed the cruise ship’s passengers to disembark in Sydney.
“Myself and my colleagues at the public health department were working very hard on this,” she said.
“We did what we could, and if we could do it again it would be very different.”
But Mr Morrison told 2GB radio today the questioning had overstepped the mark.
“I found those images … very distressing. Spare a thought also for those public health officials. They are all trying to do their best,’” he said.
“People are not perfect. I thank her for the great job she’s been seeking to do.
“I found that a bit out of line. I would hope Mr Walker would reflect on that.”
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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said everyone had to take their share of responsibility.
“I have said from the start, that several authorities, federal and state should have stepped up,” she said.
“We have seen the consequences and what we can take from the findings when they come, are learnings for the future.
“I certainly want to get the bottom of it as does everybody else.”