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Border Force statement refuting ABC 730/Labor reporting on Ruby Princess

Last night the ABC's 730 program broadcast this story

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The ABC quoted Labor Senator Kristina Keneally making the claim about Border Force, flu tests and passenger disembarkation

KRISTINA KENEALLY: These documents show, quite tragically, that the Australian Border Force made a serious mistake when they mistook flu tests for COVID tests.

What these documents show is that the Australian Border Force made the decision for passengers to disembark the Ruby Princess.

But Border Force blew a hole in ABC activist Andrew Probyn‘a story within minutes of it airing.

Border Force sent out this statement at 7:46pm - 3 minutes after Probyn’s story finished.

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ABF statement refuting reporting on Ruby Princess

The Australian Border Force (ABF) strongly refutes claims in Andrew Probyn’s ABC 7:30 reporting today that a senior ABF officer allowed 2,700 people to disembark the Ruby Princess cruise ship after mistakenly believing passengers displaying "flu-like symptoms" had tested negative to COVID-19.

The ABF only has legislative responsibilities for the Customs and Migration Act to clear vessels and people travelling from overseas ports.

No ABF officer had authority to make biosecurity decisions in relation to the Ruby Princess, including about pratique. The ABF responsibility does not include preventing the disembarkation of passengers or crew for human health reasons.

The ABF’s responsibility is to ensure that no one enters Australia with contraband and all passengers and crew are either Australian citizens or have an appropriate visa.

Any misinterpretation by ABF officers of test results did not make a difference as to whether passengers were cleared to disembark the Ruby Princess. Human health is not the responsibility of the ABF.

The continuous criticism of the ABF’s involvement in this matter at this time is unhelpful and distracting as agencies work together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.