By ASHNA BHARKHADA
A large crowd of over 1000 people gathered at Yarra Bay Sailing Club on Sunday 18 November to campaign against the NSW Government’s plan to build a new cruise ship terminal. The plan is to build between Yarra Bay and Molineaux Point in Botany Bay, but opponents say Garden Island at Potts Point would be a better place to build the terminal, maximising on the capacity of Sydney’s existing berths.
Opponents of the terminal also state: a massive island breakwater across the Yarra Bay would redirect swells that rebound onto the calm shores enjoyed by many residents; road traffic in the area would grow substantially, including an increased use of trucks transporting supplies to and from the dock; and Yarra Bay Sailing Club and the Maroubra and Coogee surf clubs surfboat and Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) training would be compromised due to the effects of the island breakwater.
Furthermore, there’s the issue of placing thousands of arriving passengers in South Sydney who will need to be bused up to Circular Quay to see the Opera House and other attractions. A new terminal at Garden Island instead would keep the tourists in existing tourist areas.
La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council had also raised concerns that the proposed terminal would destroy significant heritage culture and waters.
Former Navy Reserve Captain Peter Collins, who led The Cruise Industry Reference group in 2017, previously received a universal consensus from the cruise line industry, tourism industry, business chambers, and NSW Government that all agreed that Garden island was a more cost effective and practical location for terminal. He suggested the area could be used as a dual facility with the Navy base.
However, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made a “captains call” and turned down the idea on the grounds of national security.
Garden Island should be reconsidered
The Port Authority of New South Wales’ acting chief executive Philip Holliday told the campaigners on Sunday that the reason for considering alternative development sites like Yarra Bay was because the Defence Force had again confirmed Garden Island was its key supporting base for the Navy.
The result of Sunday’s demonstration was a united decision by residents, politicians and several supporting parties to develop a plan-of-action that would urge the government to reconsider Garden Island as an alternative location and take Yarra Bay off the table.
Over the coming months the group has scheduled three more protests around Circular Quay, outside Port Authority headquarters, and a music festival on the water.
Greens MLC David Shoebridge is expected to present a motion in upper house this week calling for the release of a preliminary strategic business case. At Sunday’s rally, the Port Authority failed to provide the strategy details and claim that the information is confident.
Save Yarra Bay Coalition collected 1500 signatures at the rally to support letters addressed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premiere Gladys Berejiklian, outlining objections to the development. The letters are scheduled to be sent to their respective offices in the coming weeks.
Save Yarra Bay Coalition surveyor Maria Polous Conklin said that a cross-party consensus of people from all political strides are united against the development and the effort is unprecedented.
“We’re going to fight it legally, we’re going to fight it politically, we’re going to fight it with people power,” she declared.