On 15 April 2020, the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess was established, led by Bret Walker SC. This inquiry will have regard to the global COVID-19 pandemic and the following voyages of the Ruby Princess;
Under the Special Commissions of Inquiry Act 1983 (NSW), letters patent are issued, authorising or requiring the person to inquire into and report to the Governor on any matter specified in the commission, and to establish a Special Commission of Inquiry for that purpose.
As part of these letter patent, a ‘terms of reference’ is provided for the Special Commission to inquire into and report on. In the case of the Ruby Princess, this includes;
Under the Act, the Commissioner is empowered to hold hearings in connection with the Special Commission. These hearings take place in public unless the Commissioner is satisfied that it is desirable for these to be conducted in private due to matters being of a confidential nature.
The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess will hold both public and private hearings in Sydney.
The Commission held these public hearings on from Tuesday 5 May 2020 to 11 May 2020. The transcripts and exhibits from these hearing can be found on the Special Commission’s website.
In addition to these hearings, submissions can also be submitted for consideration by the Commissioner and Counsel Assisting. Passengers of the Ruby Princess between 24 February 2020 and 19 March 2020, and those persons with information or documents relevant to the Commission’s terms of reference, have been invited to make a submission to the Inquiry. All submissions provided by the deadline of 29 May 2020 will be considered by the Commission.
It is the duty of a Commissioner, within such period or periods as may be specified in the relevant commission, to make a report or reports to the Governor in connection with the subject-matter of the commission, and in particular as to whether there is or was any evidence or sufficient evidence warranting the prosecution of a specified person for a specified offence.
The Commissioner for the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess must report to the Premier and the Governor by 14 August 2020.