Garden Island remains the key to solving Sydney’s capacity problems, according to the former Liberal leader behind the State Government’s report on growing capacity for cruise ships on Sydney Harbour.
But the committee has also opened up a series of options, including the possible development of Port Botany – preferred choice of mega ship operator Royal Caribbean.Garden Island remains the key to solving Sydney’s capacity problems, according to the former Liberal leader behind the State Government’s report on growing capacity for cruise ships on Sydney Harbour.
But the committee has also opened up a series of options, including the possible development of Port Botany – preferred choice of mega ship operator Royal Caribbean.
The report was submitted last week by Peter Collins, captain in the Royal Navy Reserves and former Liberal leader in NSW.
News of the committee’s recommendations was broken in The Daily Telegraph, in a report accompanied by graphic images of a new precinct in Potts Point and a promise the recommendations could create up to $15 billion in revenue to boost the State’s economy.
But Mr Collins told Cruise Passenger the images were “the exact opposite” of what he and his colleagues were recommending.
Speaking to the media at a site overlooking the Garden Island naval base, Mr Collins said there were absolutely no plans to remove the Navy from Garden Island, and no mention of an apartment development.
Pointing to where HMAS Canberra was moored at Garden Island, Mr Collins said this was what his report was talking about.
He confirmed that in his eyes, a wharf at this position for a cruise ship would benefit the state and the industry.
The Telegraph reported Mr Collins said his report ran through a range of options including berthing cruise liners at Botany Bay.
“But tourists want that Opera House, Harbour Bridge experience,” he said. “The glaring option is a new terminal building where the main crane used to stand.”
The Navy has yet to comment. The service’s top brass has fiercely defended Garden Island from attempts to share with cruise ships on the grounds of security and infrastructure.
NSW Ports Minister Melinda Pavey was quoted in the Telegraph as saying the report offers the Navy more resources and more space.
Mr Collins, in his interview with Cruise Passenger, was at pains to point out that previous plans to increase cruise berths in the harbour had foundered because they called for the Navy’s removal from Garden Island. His recommendations ensured the Navy, their personal and their contribution to the economy of NSW, continued.
The plans will go before Parliament before the end of the year. Talks with the Navy had yet to take place, and would only happen after the NSW Parliament has voted.
The cruise industry would get a permanent terminal. Right now, they share at the Navy’s discretion, and there hasn’t been a cruise ship on Garden Island since the QM2 in 2013.
The cruise industry has been lobbying hard, with its body Cruise Lines International Association Australasia pointing out the problems at every opportunity.
They organisation released a report just this month claiming cruise was worth more than $5 billion to the economy. But while other states were growing at up to 140 per cent, NSW was a laggard at just 6 per cent because of the port of Sydney.
Lines like Royal Caribbean have already moved ships away from NSW.
Royal Caribbean’s managing director Adam Armstrong told Cruise Passenger he was encouraged that the report was looking at several options, including Port Botany.
His line has long pushed for development at Port Botany as a longer term option.
“We think it’s a goer,” he said. “The report has identified the options. Now they have to be costed. We’re talking about big building projects. That’s going to take some time to go through.”
“We’ll take anything so long as its fit for purpose, future proofed, lasts 30 years and is built for ships like Oasis of the Seas. We don’t want to go through this again.”
Joel Katz, executive director of Cruise Lines International Association Australasia, told Cruise Passenger:
“It’s not a surprise to anyone that a shared solution for Garden Island is on the list of options for increasing capacity to accomodate large cruise ships east of the Harbour Bridge, as is Port Botany. As the numbers released last week show, NSW is losing share of the economic benefit from cruise, and the continued growth is dependent on identifying a solution to the Sydney capacity constraints.
“It’s encouraging that the Minister is confirming the government’s intention to concurrently evaluate all the options and the industry is ready to continue to work with the government to ensure that a solution is found that allows the industry to maintain its growth momentum and that the benefit continues to flow through to the economy.”
Meanwhile Destination Wollongong welcomed news that the Collis report had been delivered.
General manager Mark Sleigh said Port Kembla would share in the benefits of a stronger Sydney port, along with other regional centres in NSW.
Mr Sleigh said Destination Wollongong had submitted recommendations to Mr Collins for his report and received favourable feedback. And was confident Wollongong can look forward to growing its presence in the cruise industry and welcoming more cruise ships.