Navy fleet base or a cruise terminal; that’s the question around Garden Island and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says it’s time to explore the answer.

In the lead up to the Federal election, Mr Rudd announced that if re-elected he would establish a three-person taskforce to report to the government on the relocation of some or all of the navy’s operations to northern outposts.

Nominating Brisbane, Townsville and Darwin as potential new headquarters, the move would create space for “exciting new uses”, according to the PM, including a third dedicated cruise terminal.

Sydney’s cruise industry has been eyeing Garden Island as a new base of operations east of the Harbour Bridge because currently vessels larger than the Bridge are unable to berth at the existing terminal in White Bay, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia general manager Brett Jardine.

“The situation is restricting cruise lines’ ability to visit Sydney and ultimately will curtail the significant economic benefits which cruising delivers, unless another cruise terminal is created,” Mr Jardine said.

Mr Rudd expects any relocation of the navy fleet to be finalised and completed by 2030.