Illawarra unions and politicians have hit out at what they claim is the secretive way the government sent the controversial Ruby Princess to Port Kembla.
The ship, which is at the centre of an investigation after it docked in Sydney last month and passengers carrying COVID-19 were allowed to get off, arrived in Port Kembla on Monday morning.
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said the unions were unaware of the government's plans.
"The problem we have is that we woke up to the news that this ship was coming into our port, our city, without any consultation with our maritime workers and the unions that represent them," Mr Rorris said at Port Kembla.
The labour council secretary suggested the move might have been driven by "political damage control" since the ship has become the biggest single largest source of COVID-19 cases in the state - with more than 620 cases - and 11 associated deaths.
Mr Rorris said that, with sick passengers on board, it was a curious decision to send the ship to a regional port.
"Why would you send that ship to a regional centre with a hospital that is not equipped to do that as well as Sydney hospitals that have got far greater capacity than we have?".
Since last week, Port Kembla has become the preferred location to send the cruise ships that have been waiting off the coast.
At least four ships docked last week, with up to 10 passengers being taken off.
Labor's health spokesman Ryan Park has slammed the NSW government for the decision to "dump" its problem of the Ruby Princess on the Illawarra.
"It is unbelievable that in the cover of darkness the vessel that has been the epicentre of coronavirus in NSW sails into the harbour," he said.
"Everyone wants to see the crew on board this ship get the medical attention they need and deserve, but the majority of health and hospital resources are located just a few kilometres from Sydney Harbour."
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