Coalition defending Yarra Bay and Botany Bay consolidates

The breadth and depth of the coalition that has formed to defend Yarra Bay (and Botany Bay) was on display at the Save Yarra Bay Community Forum, Sunday 17 November at Yarra Bay Sailing Club.

With Yarra Bay club house filled to capacity, people listened to the speeches from the beach below

Thoughout the forum chaired by Hon. Michael Daley MLA, the huge crowd heard informative, passionate and inspiring speeches from:

Barbara Simms – local Aboriginal Elder – Welcome to Country

Peter Collins – Chair, Cruise Industry Reference Group and advocate for a shared seasonal cruise terminal at Garden Islandwatch & listen from 1:02

“This isn’t a NIMBY thing. This isn’t a Liberal -Labor thing. This is about good public policy.”

Hon. Michael Daley MLA, Member for Maroubrawatch & listen from 1:40

“It’s also about being truthful and honest and open with the possible expenditure of your money.

Peter spoke about a couple of reports there. I tried to get them. We’ve all tried to get them. And the copy I got every second word was blacked out. It was unreadable.

I’ve called today for an Upper House Enquiry so we can get our hands on those documents.”

Noelene Timbery – La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council – watch & listen from 3:29

“So it’s time for us to stand together. And time for us the La Perouse Aoriginal community to ask the question:

‘When will our cultural rights be respected? When will our history & our traditions be acknowledged?'”

Maria Poulos – Save the Bay Coalition – watch & listen from 5:52

“It’s time to stop the madness. Accommodating cruise ships at Garden Island will cost $143 million versus at least $600 million at Yarra Bay.

Send Royal Caribbean and other predators a strong message ‘Get the hell out of our bay’

Peter Fagan – 3D visualization of the proposal – Save Little Baywatch & listen from 10:17

Stan Konstantaras – Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW – watch & listen from 11:57

“What it means is decreasing access for recreational fishermen, and we won’t put up with that.

I also bring in support to the whole campaign, 850,000 fishermen across New South Wales.

Recreational fishermen, our answer is NO.”

Henry Morris – Clubs NSW – watch & listen from 13:06

We will fight with all the might the club movement can muster.

People power will never be denied.

Why won’t the government listen? They now have to listen to the people.

Yarra Bay Sailing Club will be wiped out. It is a marvelous community asset.

John Turnbull – Environmental Scientist at UNSW and Diver – watch & listen from 16:09

Botany Bay is no ordinary bay. Under the water it is just as unique as the incredible indigenous and cultural heritage we’ve seen above the water.

The two heads of the bay – Kurnell on one side, Bare Island and Cape Banks on the other side – have a unique marine community that is nowhere else in the world.

David Shoebridge MLC, NSW Greens – watch & listen from 17:10

The good thing about the Upper House at the moment, the government doesn’t control the numbers.

I was just talking with Mark [ Banasiak ] Shooters and Fishers … I will put on a motion to use the powers of the Upper House to force the government to release the strategic business case.

Mark Banasiak MLC, Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party – watch & listen from 19:23

In terms of the Upper House enquiry, you can guarantee our signature on that referral.

The message back to Gladys and Andrew … we are getting those documents, whether you like it or not.

We will make them blink on Yarra Bay.

Paul Garrett, Assistant Secretary – Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney Branch – watch & listen from 20:18

This decision by the Liberal government … it’s bad for Yarra Bay, it’s bad for the community and its bad for Botany Bay.

The Sydney Branch, 2,300 working men and women in this port, support you today. We stand with you and I want to make sure that message is received well and true.

It’s an unusual issue that brings members of the Labor Party, the Liberal Party in Peter Collins, the Greens, the Shooters and Fishers together. That’s how stupid this decision is. And when you get all those groups coming together to say how bad it is, it needs to be heard.

No cruise ships on Yarra Bay. No cruise ships on Yarra Bay and the MUA is here to stay.

Councillor Danny Said – Mayor, Randwick City Council – watch & listen from 23:23

If they say it’s going to cost half a billion dollars, it’s going to cost $1 billion. We know that, it will double.

So save that money, give it to the drought stricken farmers, give it to the fire fighters up North and give it to social housing.

Councillor Christina Curry – Bayside Council – watch & listen from 23:52

A cruise ship terminal in Yarra Bay will put a greater demand on ratepayer funds to mitigate the impact.

This year alone Bayside Council has had to spend 1 million dollars due to beach erosion.

We call on the State government to explain how ratepayers in Bayside and Randwick and Sutherland Councils will not be asked to bear the burden of future foreshore management.

The Mayor and Councillors of Bayside Council unanimously insist that the State government release the confidential documents and explain to ratepayers the impact on our already congested roads and traffic infrastructure and our environment.

My fellow Councillors and I were unanimous on Wednesday night at our Council meeting. Botany Bay has had enough.

Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MHR – watch & listen from 25:26

There’s one person who can overturn all of this and stop it. That’s the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. His electorate starts at Kurnell.

He can intervene here and stop this. Now if he cared about Botany Bay, if he cared about his residents in Kurnell – because they are going to be affected by this – the Prime Minister would show leadership and stand up for Botany Bay and intervene and stop this ridiculous proposal.

But at the end of the day, friends, the only thing that is going to stop this, as Henry said, is people power. We have to come together and make sure that we as a community work with other communities in Sydney to stop this ridiculous proposal for a cruise ship terminal at Yarra Bay.

The NSW Government response was provided by Phillip Holliday – Acting CEO & Sydney Harbour Master, Port Authority of NSW – watch & listen from 2:10

Bayside Council adds its weight to Save Yarra Bay Coalition

Bayside Councillor Christina Curry spoke forcefully at the Save Yarra Bay Community Forum on Sunday 17 November – click here to listen.

Christina Curry’s speech follows her work last week when Bayside Council, at its Ordinary Meeting on Wednesday 13 November 2019 passed the following resolution on the motion of Christina and fellow Labor Councillor Scott Morrissey:

Bayside Council’s resolution reinforces an earlier motion passed in July 2019.

Great work Councillors Christina Curry and Scott Morrissey. And thank you, Bayside Council for your support once again.

Since the resolution, Mayor Joe Awada has written to the Prime Minister, the Premier, the Deputy Premier and the Ministers for Transport, Tourism and the Environment. Bayside garbage trucks will join Randwick City Council’s garbage trucks in carrying “No Cruise Ship” messaging. Bayside Council have a number of other ideas and activities in progress, including the launch of a ‘have your say’ page on Council’s website.

Environmental presentation at Community Forum

Due to technical problems, we were unable to show John Turnbull’s superb photos of Botany Bay’s remarkable marine life during his presentation at the Save Yarra Bay Community Forum on Sunday 17 November.

John has kindly made his presentation available for publication – click here to view it.

John Turnbull holds a Masters degree in Marine Science Management, an MBA and a Bachelor of Engineering. He is currently a Researcher at the University of NSW, studying for a PhD in the fields of marine ecology, social values and citizen science.

John is President of the Underwater Research Group of NSW. He is a dedicated Marine Explorer – inspiring people, engaging communities and protecting our marine environment.

John’s amazing albums of underwater photography around Botany Bay are open for all to view on flickr:

Everything John has photographed is at risk should a mega cruise ship terminal be built in Yarra Bay.

Thought for parents – John’s photos are a great resource for school projects – and for teaching the young about what we have to lose.

Please note: all of John’s photographs are licensed Creative Commons Non-Commercial with Attribution, which means anyone can download and use them for non-commercial purposes as long as they attribute them – that is, accompany them with text (for example in a caption) that says they are John Turnbull’s photographs.

Please join us at community forum on Sunday 17 November

Save the Bay Coalition is holding an open public forum on Sunday 17 November at 2 PM at Yarra Bay Sailing Club to update Botany Bay communities and recreational groups on the NSW Liberal Government’s proposed cruise ship terminal at Yarra Bay.

Yarra Bay at sunset; image courtesy & © Dharma Bendersky

A cruise ship terminal at Yarra Bay would be a disaster for our community and would see the destruction of our beach and bay, traffic chaos and loss of green and marine open space and amenity.

To date, all significant information about the proposal has been kept secret by the NSW Government – Commercial in Confidence or Cabinet in Confidence.

Despite this, in recent months our community has learnt that:

  • The NSW Liberal Government has ruled out all locations for a future cruise ship terminal other than Yarra Bay or Molineaux Point.
  • The strategic business case is now complete and the Government is currently working on the detailed business case.
  • The Government has been holding secret talks with the cruise industry, seeking financial contributions to help pay for this hugely expensive proposal.
  • A solid break wall would need to be built across the mouth of Yarra Bay and extensive dredging would be required in the bay.

We now have a good idea of where the cruise ship wharf would sit in Yarra Bay. At the forum, we will present on the club’s big screen a 3D visualisation to show you the gigantic scale of this proposal and its horrendous impact on our precious local beach and bay.

We will hear from the proposal proponent (Port Authority of NSW), state and local government representatives, recreational fishers and divers, the local Aboriginal community, sporting clubs, marine scientists and trade unions.

To conclude the forum, we will present an action plan of next steps and events for bayside communities and recreational groups to continue the fight to save Yarra Bay.

This is your opportunity to learn more, ask questions and demonstrate your opposition. Please join us at the community forum – Yarra Bay Sailing Club, Sunday 17 November at 2 PM.

We hope to see you there.

Dredging up a toxic threat to Sydney

Volumes could be written about the environmental consequences of the Berejiklian government’s proposed Yarra Bay mega cruise ship terminal. The proposal is an environmental stinker of the first order.

In this post, guest contributor Cameron Rogers focuses on just one aspect of one of the big issues – dredging of contaminated seabed sediment.

The dredging required for a mega cruise ship terminal in Botany Bay poses a significant environmental threat to all coastal residents of Sydney; and if the Royal Caribbean cruise line, the Port Authority of NSW and the NSW Liberal Government were to get their way, by 2023 many of Sydney’s most iconic ocean beaches would be suffering from significant environmental contamination.

A mega cruise ship terminal in Botany Bay would require the dredging of millions of tonnes of seabed sediment (spoil) to create a shipping channel, swing basin and berth boxes for two 350 metre mega cruise ships.

Some of the sediment would be used for reclamation of land side terminal space, the rest would be towed out of Botany Bay in barges and dumped at sea – as close to Sydney’s coastline as the NSW government could get away with.

As a guide, to what might happen, the dredged spoil from the Port Botany expansion, highly contaminated with Tributyltin (TBT), was dumped off the coast of Sydney out to sea from Clovelly / Gordons Bay, only to wash back into shore around Coogee.

Why would it be any different this time? Allowing this development would see contaminants entering the marine food chain and being deposited in beach sands up and down the Sydney shoreline for years to come.

The spoil from dredging in Yarra Bay would contain legacy substances:

  • from many years of unregulated industry:
    • in Matraville
    • in the old industrial suburbs south of the Sydney CBD (Alexandria, Rosebery, Mascot etc)
    • in suburbs adjacent to the Cooks river and its tributaries
  • and from shipping in Botany Bay and aviation at Mascot.

The NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warnings in place to not disturb the sediment in many of the rivers, estuaries, channels and canals that drain into Botany Bay. This is because years of industry and shipping have deposited toxic substances deep within the now stable sediment of the bay. Products such as:

  • polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) and heavy metals such as mercury and lead from the years of operation of the Bunnerong coal fired power station
  • organochlorine pesticides (Chlordane, DDT, and Dieldrin)
  • Tributyltin (TBT) an anti-fouling agent, and banned product that “is one of the most poisonous substances to be released to the aquatic environment today”.

Of equal concern are highly toxic Per and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) from Sydney Airport and other locations where firefighters have trained. The EPA already has warnings in place regarding the consumption of fish caught in the bay area, mostly due to PFAS (see EPA PFAS Warning Botany Bay area).

Fishing in Botany Bay would be most unwise after the dredging, with our recreational fishers having to wait for years until the remaining contaminants were again fixed in a re-settled sea bed.

Lest anyone think that everything would settle down once the dredging for the new cruise ship terminal was complete, keep in mind that maintenance dredging would be required regularly to remove sediments transported by currents from nearby areas and accumulating in the artificially deepened channels and berths. This maintenance dredging would ensure that every 5-10 years, more contamination would be unlocked, dispersed and dumped at sea.

You may ask how the NSW government would get around the extreme environmental concerns related to dredging. Don’t they have a responsibility to the local population? Aren’t there environmental laws in place to stop this outrage?

Probably not. The NSW government would be expected to classify the project a State Significant Development, so it would not require any of the normal environmental permission processes that a commercial proposal needs to work through. Many laws and regulations could then be bypassed, with the only protection left being the need to inform a minister of what was about to be done.

For example, Section 201 of the Fisheries Management Act provides that a permit is required before carrying out any dredging or reclamation works. However, under the provisions of section 199 of the Act, the Ports Authority of NSW, being a public authority, is exempted from the need to obtain approval for dredging and reclamation, but must provide written notice to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. That’s it – one minister says it is OK, and the project proponent does whatever they want!

Surely you would think that this kind of development could be challenged via the Land and Environment Court? No, I am sorry, the NSW government have thought of this too!

There would be no right of appeal to the Land and Environment Court under section 97 or section 98 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, once the project was declared a State Significant Development.

An environmental disaster is poised to unfold before our eyes. Please tell your friends and whoever else will listen that the Berejiklian government’s mega cruise ship proposal for Yarra Bay must be stopped before it is too late!

No consultation without information

As expected, yesterday’s consultations with the Port Authority of NSW project team broke down.

The Port Authority’s powerless public servants and consultants had no information to provide – the Berejiklian government has stamped everything pertaining to the project Cabinet-in-confidence or commercial-in-confidence.

The Port Authority project team just wanted to outline their consultation process going forward (which we already knew about from the very lightweight brochure they letter-boxed in neighbourhoods near Yarra Bay). It was an exercise in government subterfuge, a meeting to do nothing and reveal nothing and a complete waste of everyone’s time.

For over a year, the NSW government has ignored community requests for information that could lead to engagement. Meanwhile, they have forged ahead with detailed talks with their cruise ship industry clients. For example we know that they have shared information about the preliminary strategic business case with the cruise industry as part of a market sounding process.

Now, Port Authority staff have been delegated to ask for a community response – but are unwilling to accept that it is impossible for us to respond when they won’t outline what they are planning and are deliberately keeping us in the dark. The process is unfair, totally lacking in transparency and is rejected by the communities we represent.

Port Authority staff kept saying “We want to start a relationship with you.” We left them with this message:

“We don’t want a relationship. We want to stop this by showing you what a ridiculous, dangerous, environmentally and socially destructive proposal it is. We have no interest in a partnership with you that helps you to confuse and placate an angry community so you can get away with building your terminal.”

We brought the meeting to an end by stating our position:

“We cannot meet again until you release the information we have requested: your preliminary studies, the strategic business case and your plans for the terminal. Those documents will enable us to sit down with our committee of scientists, engineers and other experts to prepare an evidence-based response. For consultation to occur, you must treat us with the same respect you have accorded the foreign-owned cruise industry.”

The only glimmer of hope we took out of the meeting was the Port Authority senior manager’s admission that if the business case is not positive, it is possible the project will not proceed. WE WILL HOLD HIM TO THAT.

At the meeting, the community was represented by Maria Poulos, Peter Fagan, Cheryl Rennie, Derek Zilich (Save the Bay Coalition), Trevor Walker (Indigenous Representative), Stan Konstantaras (President, Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW), Barry Wallace (President, Yarra Bay Sailing Club). And we say thank you to many others for your contributions beforehand and your ongoing support.

Consultation must begin with information

The Port Authority of NSW wants to “consult” with the community and other stakeholders regarding its proposed Yarra Bay or Molineux Point mega cruise ship terminal. However the Port Authority continues to balk at providing the essential ingredient of successful consultation: meaningful information about what they propose to build.

In response to their invitation:

“As discussed, we would like to meet with Save the Bay Coalition to provide an update, meet the project team, answer your questions and continue to get your feedback.”

our advice to the Port Authority was that we were expecting consultation to provide the following specific information:

  • Substantive and to scale drawings that show the locations of the proposed berths, breakwaters, land reclamations, land acquisitions, terminal structures, roadworks, and other infrastructure for each of the options being considered for the proposed mega cruise ship terminal.
  • Preliminary environmental impact assessments for the above.
  • Early estimates of total cost for each option.
  • The results of the preliminary strategic business case and justification for the claim that the proposal is technically feasibile.
  • Information the Port Authority has shared or plans to share with the cruise line industry, as part of the market sounding process.

Following discussions with the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW, we will include, in future communication with the Port Authority, the following additional items that pertain to on-water impacts on recreational fishers, fish and biodiversity:

  • The terminal / mooring footprint on the water for each option.
  • Proposed dredging plans for each option.

We insist that consultation must begin with us being granted access to the above strategic phase information, and permission to share it with our community of stakeholders.

Why do we insist on this information?

We have explained to the Port Authority:

“You will appreciate that unless the community knows at a substantive level of detail what you are proposing to build and what it would cost, we are unable to provide sensible and meaningful responses to you.”

And we insist that until we know what the Port Authority proposes to build, it cannot be said that we have been consulted.

Should the Port Authority refuse to make the information available, we will make it clear that there has not been consultation. And we will remind them that if the NSW Government progresses the proposal without consultation, they will be imposing it on the community without having obtained any social licence for it.

What does the Port Authority mean by consultation?

They have told us:

“An important part of this project is seeking feedback from stakeholders and the community to help shape a potential third cruise terminal.

Through consultation we want to understand in more detail:

  • how the community uses the area near the two potential sites
  • what the community enjoys and values about the local area
  • other information that will help minimise potential construction and operational impacts.

We are also interested in seeking ideas that the local community and stakeholders may have for how the area might be used in the future, should a potential terminal be progressed.”

Clearly, the Port Authority’s idea of consultation works from the premise that the mega cruise ship terminal is a fait accompli. Consequently, we are pessimistic about the usefulness of the consultation they propose to the affected stakeholders.