Sorry just isn’t enough

Davida Erdahl

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday “unreservedly” apologised after a scathing Special Commission of Inquiry last week condemned a series of “monumental mistakes” with the official handling of the cruise fiasco. But southern suburbs grandfather Stephen Lavender, 67, said the apology was “not enough” as he grieved his wife of […]

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday “unreservedly” apologised after a scathing Special Commission of Inquiry last week condemned a series of “monumental mistakes” with the official handling of the cruise fiasco.

But southern suburbs grandfather Stephen Lavender, 67, said the apology was “not enough” as he grieved his wife of 38 years Linda Lavender, 62.

Eastern suburbs “miracle” survivor Paul Faraguna, 69, said while an apology was good, accountability was needed.

An expatriate mother on Monday became SA’s 462nd COVID-19 case, as SA Health launched a testing blitz on hotel workers.

COVID-19 World Numbers

The stricken cruise sparked SA Health’s biggest cluster of 89 cases.

It also contributed to two of the state’s four virus deaths within a week in April.

More than 20 passengers died from contracting the virus on board the ship and a further 700 people were infected.

There are 63 SA passengers who are part of a global lawsuit.

On Monday Ms Berejiklian said sorry for the first time over her government’s handling of the crisis.

“I want to apologise unreservedly to anybody who is continuing to suffer or has suffered unimaginable loss because of mistakes that were made within our health agencies,” she said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has apologised “unreservedly” to those impacted by the mistakes made by the New South Wales Health Department in its response to the Ruby Princess debacle.

She said her government had learnt a lot from the “horrible mistakes”, but NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard refused to resign for the blunders despite the 320-page report’s scathing assessment of his officials.

Commissioner Bret Walker SC criticised failures which led to 2647 passengers disembarking into communities around Australia – and the globe – without proper checks. No officials involved in the ship’s docking will be disciplined as Commissioner Walker recommended.

As he sat in front of a shrine to his late wife – a grandmother of four and mother of three – at their Morphett Vale home, Mr Lavender said the official apology was “not enough”.

The couple had been on the “trip of a lifetime” and Ms Lavender had loved the cruise, which was booked well before the pandemic.

“I expected that sort of thing from a politician,” said Mr Lavender, a retired hardware worker who is seeing a counsellor to cope with grief.

“I said to myself I am not going to get angry anymore and I am trying to move on.

“But it is not enough to just say sorry. They allowed everyone to return home. But I just want to let sleeping dogs lie. I think the whole thing was avoidable because they should have quarantined everyone on the boat.”

Mr Faraguna, from Rosslyn Park, who was the state’s first – and last – ICU patient, said he wanted decision makers held to account.

He said no one should have to endure what they had been through and watertight safeguards must be introduced to ensure the tragedy was never, ever repeated

“I am a fairly forgiving person … but if people make decisions that were wrong, then somebody should probably lose their job,” he said.

“I don’t particularly want to see anyone crushed … but it is important there is accountability.”

A NSW Police inquiry is ongoing.

The 1056 crew members on board the Ruby Princess are in lockdown with 44 confirmed cases of workers on the ship. Jan Swartz, Group President of Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia, sent them a video message update.

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