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.

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