One year ago, the COVID-hit Ruby Princess cruise ship was banished to Port Kembla.
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said it was now time for some answers as to why it occurred.
"One year to the day, someone in the federal and/or state government made a decision not to help the crew of the Ruby Princess, but to hide them out of view," Mr Rorris said on Tuesday.
"It's been a year on, and it may not have been appropriate at the time, but now we demand those answers. Who sent the ship? Why did they send the ship? And what did the government do to try to protect the health and safety of that crew?"
The ship, which was at the centre of an investigation after it docked in Sydney last March and passengers carrying COVID-19 were allowed to get off, arrived in Port Kembla on April 6 last year.
At the time, the Labour Council secretary suggested the move might have been driven by "political damage control", since the ship had become the biggest single largest source of COVID-19 cases in the state - with 900 cases - and 28 associated deaths.
On Tuesday, the Labour Council called for an independent inquiry into the events and circumstances surrounding the decision to send the Ruby Princess to a coal terminal in Port Kembla, despite being already berthed in an international cruise ship terminal in Circular Quay with medical and emergency facilities.
"Unfortunately for the authorities, state and federal, and luckily for the crew, they were sent into the most densely unionised region in the whole country," Mr Rorris said.
"A union town, where miners, steelworkers and maritime workers kept a close eye on the ship for the entire three-week ordeal while International Transport Workers Federation, Maritime Union of Australia and Labour Council officials worked 24/7 with NSW Health officials to get them tested and get them home.
"Ultimately, an independent inquiry about the Port Kembla chapter of the Ruby Princess tragedy will be needed to resolve this."
The troubled ship eventually left Australian waters, sailing out of Port Kembla on April 23 last year.
The Maritime Union of Australia's southern NSW branch secretary Mick Cross said what needed to be highlighted was the "human factor and the human toll in all this".
"While the Ruby Princess might not be considered an atrocity, what it was, was a federal and state government who were more interested in covering their tracks than caring for the workers on that vessel."
NSW Health declined to comment when contacted.
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