Community update on cruise terminal proposal

At the next meeting of Randwick City Council’s Bays and Beaches Precinct, Maria Poulos Convenor of Save The Bay Coalition, will provide an update on the NSW Government’s plans for a cruise ship terminal at Yarra Bay. Residents will be hoping Maria can answer their many questions, such as:

  • What is the attitude of the new Premier to the Yarra Bay proposal?
  • With Transport Minister and Planning Minister Rob Stokes clearly not in favour of a Yarra Bay terminal, is there any prospect of his preferred alternative – Garden Island – being approved?
  • Port Authority of NSW representatives are stating publicly that the Yarra Bay cruise terminal proposal is “on hold”. What does that mean? And is the proposal currently being progressed in any way?
  • Is a Port Botany cruise terminal using existing port infrastructure a possibility?
  • Despite the Ruby Princess debacle and the personal tragedies of lives lost, is the NSW Government committed to a resumption of the mass market cruise industry, with ever bigger ships starting and finishing cruises at Sydney terminals?

At the meeting, Maria will also provide an update on the Kamay Ferry proposal, which involves a large, general purpose wharf at the La Perouse “Loop”, a ferry service to Kurnell and many potential and undefined further uses.

Proposed Kamay Ferry / multipurpose wharf at La Perouse shown in white outline
Proposed Kamay Ferry / multipurpose wharf at La Perouse shown in white outline

Bays and Beaches Precinct is a community meeting sponsored by Randwick City Council and open to residents of South Chifley, Little Bay, Prince Henry, Philip Bay and La Perouse. The precinct meets online via Zoom and the next meeting is 29 November at 7-9 PM. If you live in the catchment area for the precinct and would like to be notified of future meetings, email baysbeaches@gmail.com

Coastal communities prepare to resist cruise industry

The Guardian Australia continues its informed coverage of cruise industry issues with a 22 November article by Royce Kurmelovs outlining NSW coastal communities’ concerns about cruise industry plans:
Return of cruise ships may bring storm of protest to regional australian ports

While international cruising for Australians remains uncertain and impractical, the cruise industry is pushing the Commonwealth and state governments to support a resumption of cruising with destinations restricted to the Australian coastline. This will involve visits to new locations and more frequent visits by larger vessels to locations previously rarely imposed upon.

Concerns of coastal communities include:

  • the oceanic pollution the industry generates (grey water, treated sewage, oily waste and solid waste)
  • the potential for spills both accidental and deliberate
  • airborne emissions from the bunker fuel the ships burn (bunker fuel is a low-quality fuel made from the dregs of the oil-refining process, and is hazardous to human health)
  • the physical impact from anchors ripping up the seafloor
  • the cumulative pressure from the construction of support infrastructure such as piers or bus terminals

Save the Bay Coalition shares many of these concerns for Yarra Bay where the cruise industry proposes a massive and permanent imposition.

The article has attracted 170 comments, many of them well worth reading. For example:

In the tourist spots, the locals will be tossed a few crumbs to support the “job creation” myth and local authorities and politicians get to pretend they are players in the big global game. But at what price? The environment is ruined (I would like to add channel deepening to all the other damaging factors already mentioned) and the local employment collapses like the house of cards it is, as has been demonstrated in the last 18 months. The Cruise line will just go to other places, exploiting their beauty and gullibility, leaving a trail of destruction while pocketing the massive profits.

Rethink Before Rebook – Rethink Cruise Tourism

Community members from Sydney and the Gold Coast, affiliated with the Global Cruise Activist Network (GCAN), have launched in Australia the GCAN Rethink Cruise Tourism campaign.

The campaign aims to compel cruise customers, investors and governments to imagine a socially, economically and environmentally responsible cruise industry, before allowing the cruise ship sector to restart following its Covid-19 hiatus.

The Rethink campaign is summarised in this brief YouTube video and the campaign has published 10 Reasons To Rethink Cruise Tourism (during Covid)

Maria Poulos Conklin of Save the Bay Coalition, which has been fighting plans to build a cruise terminal in Yarra Bay said:

“The cruise industry wants to use Australia’s relative success in stemming community transmission of Coronavirus to end the current ban on cruising, which was to expire on 17 December.* It has been working with the Australian Government for an early and controlled resumption of cruising. But we are uniting with port communities around the world to say it’s time to rethink cruise tourism,”

“Before rebooking a cruise, before investing money, before taking a cruise, before restarting cruise ships, please rethink your plan. Let’s not risk negating all the hard work and sacrifices we made with the shutdowns this year.”

“Cruise ships are proven to spread Covid-19. As we saw with the Ruby Princess and other ships this year that led to hundreds of cases and deaths, they are responsible for spreading this disease and remain a threat to public health and safety. It is not safe to resume cruising during a global pandemic and any future infectious disease outbreaks.”

“From burning huge volumes of highly polluting fuel, dumping waste in the ocean, underpaying their lowest-paid workers, and avoiding labor, tax, environmental and criminal laws, cruise companies have failed to protect the health and safety of passengers, workers and the environment. The latest example of this – the industry’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic – shows that governments must reign in and regulate this rogue industry in order to protect people, communities and the environments they depend on.”

“We call on cruise companies to delay their return to operations until they publish detailed plans with explicit commitments, benchmarks, and timelines that commit companies to implementing specific levels of performance and compliance over time.”

* Note: On December 8, the Federal Government announced the ban on cruise ships entering Australian waters will be extended for another three months [to March 18, 2021].

Save the Bay Coalition joins GCAN

Save the Bay Coalition has joined the Global Cruise Activist Network (GCAN), which is calling for cruise industry changes and demanding the cruise industry does not return to business as usual once cruise ships start sailing again in large numbers after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global Cruise Activist Network (GCAN) logo

GCAN gives Save the Bay Coalition a voice and allies internationally. Network members share ideas and support fellow campaigners battling cruise terminal developments that threaten the social fabric of communities and the environment. Through GCAN, we are able to:

  • better understand how ports and cruise terminals are being financed
  • share what works for community-led air and water pollution monitoring
  • learn from locations dealing with referendums and legal actions
  • track where and when cruise ships are returning.

Despite the Berejiklian Government’s announced delay in its planning for a third Sydney cruise ship terminal, and despite the cruise industry remaining in crisis mode due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that the work goes on in the background to develop the proposal for a mega-cruise ship terminal at Yarra Bay.

To see an inspiring gallery of actions being taken by cruise industry affected communities around the globe, visit GCAN’s new web site here.

More of the same from NSW Government & Port Authority

The Port Authority of NSW has responded to Maria Poulos’ recent letter:

What do we learn from this letter?

  • The NSW Government remains committed to evaluating a cruise terminal in Yarra Bay, and therefore to enabling the cruise industry’s expansion plans for Sydney.
  • The Cruise Capacity Detailed Business Case (DBC) has been placed on hold for a period of up to 18 months. Note that this means work on the business case could be reactivated at any time – and if the cruise industry has its way, development of the business case could be under way again by the last quarter of this year.
  • The Strategic Business Case will not be publicly released, with the standard excuse of Cabinet in Confidence status being offered to keep it secret from the communities deeply affected by its conclusions and recommendations.
  • Despite the Port Authority’s claim to be committed to industry and community engagement, they will not make public any data or conclusions from their consultation to date. Their excuse is that “with all industry and community engagement suspended, unfortunately we are not able to complete the Early Consultation Outcomes report”.

In spite of every public health disaster that has occurred in the cruise industry in 2020 – with devastating consequences for Australia and Australians – it is just more of the same from the NSW Government and their cruise industry enabling agency, the Port Authority of NSW.

Not satisfied with Brad Milner’s response? If you have the time, please express your concern and dissatisfaction to Brad Milner (bmilner@portauthoritynsw.com.au) and Ingrid Emery (iemery@portauthoritynsw.com.au), or to Chief Executive Officer Philip Holliday (pholliday@portauthoritynsw.com.au).

If you prefer post to email, the address is:

PO Box 25
Millers Point
New South Wales 2000

Save the Bay responds to Cruise Capacity update

Port Authority of New South Wales Cruise Capacity project team have issued a project update:

Maria Poulos, Convenor of Save the Bay Coalition, has responded with a letter, emailed to Brad Milner (Executive General Manager Commercial, Technical and Legal) and Ingrid Emery (General Manager, Infrastructure and manager of the Yarra Bay / Molineaux Point project):

Dear Cruise Capacity Team

The decision to place the detailed business case on hold is a welcome development. However, we all know that this project should just be cancelled.

The NSW economy will not be able to support projects that bring little return on investment to the Australian taxpayer. Our home-grown tourism industry must be supported in the Post-COVID-19 recovery phase, not foreign-owned/registered industries that don’t pay taxes and do not hire locally.

The Cruise Capacity project was never going to deliver the economic and social benefits or return on investment the cruise industry would have us believe, even with the questionable figures provided in the Cruise Development plan. In addition to the dubious economic benefits of this project, it was always going to be a public safety hazard located next to high hazard chemical and gas bulk storage facilities. I won’t repeat the environmental and cultural concerns as the Government was obviously unmoved by these legitimate and well-founded objections raised by the community. It NEVER made sense to contemplate destroying a beautiful part of Sydney to cater to a foreign industry that doesn’t even pay taxes here.

We urge you to consider a capping of cruise ships into Sydney and invest in shore to ship power, improved infrastructure at existing facilities and strengthening of environmental regulations and biosecurity at our ports. A clean, sustainable and regulated cruise industry is far preferable to turning Sydney into a polluted, congested and mass transit cruise hub catering to the low-end of the cruise market. What a vision for Sydney!

We would be grateful for the following information:

1/ Will you be releasing the community outcomes report? We committed considerable time and energy to your consultation process and would like to see the results of that.

2/ Will you be continuing work on the detailed business case (notwithstanding the announcement) given that contracts/tenders for different aspects of the final business case would have already been awarded? Or will you be suspending all work at this time?

3/ Are you able to release the preliminary strategic business case at this time?

Finally, the communities of Botany Bay and beyond request that you cancel the project and focus on building the capacity of existing ports to make them state-of-the art ports that commit to meeting global environmental and sustainability standards.

Kind regards

Maria

Now is the time to reinforce the message the Port Authority, its political masters and the cruise industry and tourism lobby groups are hearing loud and clear – after COVID-19, the cruise industry needs to strive for sustainability and social acceptance rather than continue to pressure communities to accommodate its insatiable growth ambitions.

So if you have the time, please write your own heartfelt letter to:

Brad (bmilner@portauthoritynsw.com.au) and Ingrid (iemery@portauthoritynsw.com.au) or to Chief Executive Officer Philip Holliday (pholliday@portauthoritynsw.com.au).

If you prefer post to email, the address is:

PO Box 25
Millers Point
New South Wales 2000

Protest flotilla event postponed indefinitely

UPDATE: The protest flotilla event at Yarra Bay is postponed until the government’s ban on public gatherings is lifted.

The health and safety of our supporters is very important to us. Today’s weather had forced a postponement – but with the announcement of further restrictions on public gatherings, the COVID-19 emergency has ruled out any date in the near future and we had to make the difficult decision to postpone the flotilla event indefinitely.

We will monitor the Government’s health advisories and provide advice about a new date for the event in coming weeks.

Thank you everyone for your email and comments of support.

Save the Bay Coalition thanks all those who worked so cooperatively to make a safe, fun and positive protest event possible. We are committed to holding the flotilla event at the right time and we promise it will be HUGE. Stay healthy everyone.

Further postponement of protest flotilla event

The health and safety of our supporters is our top priority and we are looking closely at the implications of the Government’s health advisory.

We will provide advice about the flotilla event on Tuesday evening – after we have met with key sponsors. We are looking at rescheduling to a date to be advised – after Government has lifted restrictions on mass gatherings.

Event information for protest participants – Sunday 22 March

Event information

Can you join us on Sunday 22 March at Yarra Bay from 11:30 to 2:00 for a water and beach protest against the New South Wales Government’s proposed mega cruise ship terminal in Yarra Bay?

If you can make it, please read the following event information:

This information is the result of a lot of hard work, detailed planning and risk assessment. It is made available to enable you to have a safe and enjoyable day alongside the many other protesters we are expecting at Yarra Bay on Sunday 22 March. Please read it, and take it with you on the day.

Event schedule

  • 0930 Marker buoys are laid to define the best view for the highlight photos. Radio coverage on VHF 77 commences.
  • 1000 Flotilla vessels start moving into position – please follow the directions of Yarra Bay Sailing Club “Flotilla Official” boats
  • 1130 Beach goers start assembling on the beach
  • 1200-1215 Singer Chris Carpenter performs a medley of “Save Yarra Bay” protest songs outside the sailing club’s lower bar
  • 1215-1300 Welcome to Country. Brief speeches from Randwick City Mayor Danny Said, Bayside Mayor Joe Awada, our local members of parliament Matt Thistlethwaite and Michael Daley and Save Yarra Bay Coalition representative Maria Poulos.
  • 1300-1310 Flotilla highlight – all vessels and beach side participants sound horns, wave banners and make as much noise as possible to create the perfect photo opportunity!
  • 1310-1330 Chris Carpenter performs a medley of “Save Yarra Bay” protest songs outside the club’s lower bar
  • 1330 Flotilla protest concludes – thanks for showing the New South Wales Government that we care what happens to Yarra Bay!
  • 1330 Flotilla disperses. To reduce the risk of collisions, please follow the directions of YBSC Flotilla Official boats. Thanks to Marine Rescue NSW, Yarra Bay Sailing Club, NSW Maritime and Water Police for keeping us safe!