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Australian cruise ship operators are braced for a bruising debate in the NSW Parliament after a 10,000-signature petition was presented opposing the expansion of Port Botany to accommodate large liners.

Protesters are determined to turn the Port Botany issue into a political debate during the upcoming state election next year, and want the Berejiklian Government to back down on its commitment to explore a Port Botany solution to Sydney Harbour’s crippling lack of capacity.

So far, around 10,000 people have signed a petition against the development at Port Botany and Parliament will debate the plans on November 21 at 10am.

Members of the Save the Bay Coalition say they will hold a rally outside Parliament at 9am on the day.

Labor leader and Maroubra MP Michael Daley will be leading the charge against government’s plan to use Port Botany when earlier this year, the federal government ruled out the Navy’s Garden Island as an option for Sydney’s second cruise terminal.

“Our community has spoken loud and clear — we do not want a massive cruise terminal in Yarra Bay,” Mr Daley MP said.

“I’ve never seen a local petition receive such a strong response. This is an unequivocal message from locals that this cruise ship proposal is dead on arrival.

“Thanks to the hard work of our community, Ron Hoenig, the member for Heffron and I have forced a debate in the Parliament.”

Earlier this week, tourism leaders called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to back the cruise industry by giving ships access to the Garden Island.

Earlier this year, the federal government, under former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, ruled out the use of Garden Island as Sydney’s second port east of the bridge.

Garden Island is one of the hottest topics in the cruise industry, as Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal which caters to mega cruise ships over 51 metres, is nearly at capacity.

While White Bay in Rozelle is able to cater for smaller boutique and luxury ships, the larger ships are unable to fit under the Harbour Bridge.

The cruise industry injects a staggering $1.6 billion into the NSW economy each year, the Mr Morrison has indicated he would not be changing the government’s position and keep Garden Island exclusively for the Navy.

Peter Collins, the former leader of the NSW Liberals and a decorated Navy captain told The Daily Telegraph that he had advised the state government earlier this year on how to address the capacity issue.

“Garden Island is the solution,” Mr Collins said.

“A shared facility with the Navy is entirely do-able. The one person who should be able to understand this better than any of us is Prime Minister Scott Morrison.”
Margy Osmond, the Tourism & Transport Forum chief executive said the sector will continue to fight for the prized site.

“Sydney Harbour and Garden Island is still the best solution,” Ms Osmond said.
“For ships coming to Sydney the money shot is the Harbour — it’s our crowning glory.”

She called on Mr Morrison to show initiative.

“It’s an ideal opportunity for a Prime Minister who has a very significant tourism background to step in and find a collaborative solution around Garden Island,” Ms Osmond said.

“We need someone in federal government to take leadership and understand the value of the industry.”

Mr Morrison has refused to comment while Defence has not outlined why they are unable to share Garden Island with the cruise industry.