Showing posts with label coastal development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coastal development. Show all posts

Friday, 9 February 2018

One of the reasons why local government, traditional owners and communities in the Clarence Valley should be very wary of home-grown and foreign lobbyists, investment consortiums and land developers – Part Two


Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council still attempting to resolve legal issues flowing from failed development proposals.

Newcastle Herald, 3 February 2018:

Companies belonging to Sydney-based businessman Tony Zong have agreed to discontinue legal action against the Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council, over a failed deal to buy $12.6 million worth of Aboriginal land across the city. 

However the complicated legal saga over the land at Warners Bay and Braye Park – that has entangled several parties and involves disgraced former assistant tax commissioner Nick Petroulias – has distance left to run.

A cross-claim launched by the land council against the other parties involved – including a Sydney law firm and a mysterious company known as Gows Heat – remains unresolved. 

In the Supreme Court on Friday, Justice Rowan Darke sent the cross-claim to mediation. 

He was also forced to strike “scandalous” material from the court’s file, contained in two affidavits of the solicitor acting for Gows Heat. 

The land council’s barrister, Jeremy Kirk SC, complained about “truly scandalous” material in at least one of the affidavits, and allegations targeting himself and his instructing solicitor.

Mr Kirk acknowledged he was a “big boy” but said the material had the potential to be “very hurtful” to people other than the litigants.

“Yes, we’re all big boys, but it’s not the sort of material that should find its way into solicitor’s correspondence or affidavits,” Justice Darke replied. 

One of the targets of the cross-claim is Despina Bakis, a solicitor with Knightsbridge North Lawyers, who has been accused of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. 

The barrister acting on her behalf, Jeffrey Rose, argued there should not be mediation until the land council produced expert evidence demonstrating how his client had behaved negligently……..

Justice Darke agreed to mediation, but warned that if the land council did not rely on expert evidence, it would need to explain its case with “clarity and force”. 

A separate lawsuit against the land council, which has seen a caveat placed over the post office, was also sent to mediation on Friday. 

The plaintiffs – Knightsbridge North Lawyers and Advantage Property Experts Syndications – claim they are together owed a sum of more than $326,700 for their involvement in Awabakal land redevelopment. 

BACKGROUND


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

One of the reasons why local government, traditional owners and communities in the Clarence Valley should be very wary of home-grown and foreign lobbyists, investment consortiums and land developers


On 15 August 2016 four representatives of United Land Councils Ltd & United First Peoples Syndications Pty Ltd gave evidence before the NSW Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee No. 6 INQUIRY INTO CROWN LAND.

One of the projects put forward to the Inquiry by those representatives was the industrialisation of the Clarence River estuary by way of construction of a mega freight port.

The following tale involves a number of persons or firms associated with the aforementioned  companies and this mega port & rail project, including Nick Petroulias aka Michael Felson aka Nick Peterson.

The Newcastle Herald, 21 October 2017:

HE WAS brash and brilliant. A young lawyer from Melbourne who became a rising star of the public service, hand-picked to serve as assistant tax commissioner by the age of 30.

That was until a spectacular fall from grace left Nick Petroulias jailed for using his plum position to do the very thing he was tasked with stamping out: defrauding the tax office.

Since his release from prison in 2010, Mr Petroulias has kept a low profile, going by a number of aliases including Michael Felson and Nick Petersen.

He described himself as a “disabled pensioner” on bankruptcy forms in 2015, with his debts estimated at an eye-watering $104 million.

But Fairfax Media can reveal that he has been accused of working behind the scenes to dupe a wealthy Chinese property developer into the illegal purchase of $12.6 million of Aboriginal land across Newcastle.

The matter is the subject of a Supreme Court legal battle that veteran lawyers have described as one of the most extraordinary cases they have seen in their careers.

Labelled by a lawyer familiar with the case as a real-life version of “Alice in Wonderland”, its cast of characters includes an international fugitive known as Robbie Rocket, a convicted drug dealer and a dead company director who somehow continued signing agreements a year after he was cremated in a Sydney cemetery.

The existence of an international money laundering syndicate and a karaoke junket intended as a bribery attempt are among the other sensational allegations contained within thousands of pages of evidence that have been tendered to the court.

Collectively, the lands were valued at $12.6 million.

Two Awabakal board members met with Mr Zong. At the negotiating table, they introduced him to Mr Petroulias – an agent for the parties involved – and Knightsbridge North Lawyers, a firm enlisted to broker the deal.

The only catch, Mr Zong was informed, was that the portfolio of land had already been sold to another buyer a year beforehand.

But he was assured that in return for a payment, that purchaser would remove themself from the picture.

By the end of the year, things appeared to be proceeding smoothly. 

Mr Zong had signed sales contracts, begun pursuing the land’s rezoning and outlaid nearly a million dollars – money he believed was a combination of a deposit and a payout for the former buyer.

But then came a shock announcement that threatened to derail the transaction: the state government had launched an investigation into the land council.

The investigation followed complaints about the land council’s governance and finances.

But Mr Zong alleges he was reassured the deal was still on a steady footing. He claims to have been told by Mr Petroulias that “there was no reason arising from the investigation that would compromise the validity of the transaction documents”. 

However, damning findings from the government’s investigator resulted in the land council being placed into administration. Then, the confirmation came: the sale was off.

Mr Zong ordered the immediate repayment of his $1 million, but his demands were refused. His property development companies – Sunshine Property Investment Group and Sunshine Warners Bay –  launched a civil claim for damages and to recoup the losses.

Caught in the legal crossfire was the land council, its law firm Knightsbridge, and the land’s original buyer, a mysterious company registered under the name Gows Heat.

Since it was placed into administration last year, the Awabakal land council has been under the control of Terry Lawler, a prominent Newcastle financier and philanthropist awarded an OAM in January.

Mr Lawler has recruited a high-powered legal team – including top silk Jeremy Kirk SC – to defend the land council and launch a cross-claim.

They have argued that the sales contracts Mr Zong signed were bogus and none of the proceeds found their way into the land council’s coffers.

Read the full article here.

The Newcastle Herald, 15 December 2017:

A wealthy Chinese developer appears set to withdraw a lawsuit against the Awabakal Aboriginal Local Land Council. 

Tony Zong and his Sunshine Property Investment Group had alleged they were conned into a deal to purchase $12.6 million of Aboriginal land across the city.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court heard the matter – involving disgraced former assistant tax commissioner Nick Petroulias – was “painfully close” to being resolved. 

It’s understood Awabakal lawyers want the land council’s costs covered as part of the settlement. 

“There doesn’t seem to be terribly much at issue in the Sunshine matter now except for the terms of discontinuance,” Justice Darke said. 

A separate action against Awabakal is also making its way through the courts. 

Knightsbridge North Lawyers has placed a caveat over the old Newcastle Post Office while it pursues the land council for $26,743 in alleged unpaid fees. 

Justice Darke indicated mediation could occur if the matter remained unresolved when the case returns to court in February. 


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

"Let them sail on to Coffs Harbour" seems to be a frequent shared sentiment expressed by Lower Clarence residents when told of the NSW Berejiklian Government's plans for a cruise ship destination on the Far North Coast


On 21 November 2017 Clarence Valley Council's ordinary monthly meeting considered the issue of giving in principle support for the NSW Government’s plan to designate the Port of Yamba a cruise ship destination and possibly build an international cruise ship terminal within the Clarence River estuary.

The motions and debate which occurred during consideration of Item 14.126/17 were illuminating.

It began at approx.1:50 pm with Clr. Baker immediately jumping in with a motion which was possibly intended to short arm any anti-cruise ship sentiment, but as it was not the first listed it fell to another to get that first word in.

Clr. Clancy’s motion which would exclude council support for a cruise ship terminal (see below) was then read and seconded by Clr. Novak.

Clr. Williamson immediately foreshadowed a motion amending Clr. Clancy’s motion. This amendment excluded dot point one, ie. “Is supportive of infrastructure strategies, initiatives and improvements which promote and well-being of local communities and businesses but specifically exclude the option of the development of a “cruise terminal” for Yamba due to adverse practical, cultural, environmental and social impacts.” The amendment was seconded by Clr. Kingsley.

With a slight rewording by Clr. Baker this eventually became the very truncated resolution adopted by Council (see below), which threw consideration of environmentally sustainable economic development, sustainable growth, the wellbeing of existing businesses and local communities to the wind.

Along the way.......

Clr. Williamson put in his “two bob’s worth” in favour of a broad submission to government and after almost twelve years in local government suprisingly went on to admit to having “zero clue” about any possible practical, cultural, environmental and social impacts an international cruise ship terminal might have, but at the same time insisting he “hadn’t seen any” – presumably because no government report had come his way yet – and that there could be “very strong positives” for supporting the cruise ship industry while supplying fellow councillors with no facts to back this position.

Clr. Clancy observed that the amendment “leaves the door wide open for a cruise port” and attempted to read into the record a letter from a former manager of Goodwood Island Wharf (see text of letter below). Cr. Williamson spoke up to block this.

Clr. Clancy listed local government’s environmental responsibilities under Australian legislation and international treaty. The risk to commercial and recreational fishing. He also canvassed the increased risk of marine pests and the negative effects of dredging for cruise ship access and berthing, including fish and crab disease brought about by a disturbed river bed and raised sediment levels in the water. 

Clancy addressed the genuine community concern with regard to the Yaegl peoples' cultural interests. He told fellow councillors that "Clr. Lysaught said no-one's suggesting dredging. Well I'm sorry, if you're going to have a cruise ship terminal you would have to dredge and you would have to dredge a lot" and “we need to listen to the people of the valley and oppose any suggestion of a [cruise] port which won’t bring any financial value to the valley”.

At one point Clr. Clancy also commented on the tone of the debate and thought it "sad that the only arguments that Clr. Baker's got are based on trying to denigrate local people...I'm lucky because I've got thick skin, I'm used to it, but some of the people out there who are  genuinely concerned about a [cruise] port in Yamba really have good reasons".

Richie Williamson’s glove puppet and seemingly part-time participant in local government Clr. Lysaught gave his opinion - mocking any suggestion that dredging would be needed or could have negative effects and stating he felt assured that all relevant legislation would be obeyed in any future development.

Clr. Ellem gave his take on the Berejiklian Government’s plan for the Port of Yamba; “Well I don’t know who dreams up this stuff, Sydney-based bureaucrats in concert with multinational cruise ship companies……..passengers spend very little money onshore unless they are in  Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney. This is a state government-driven initiative by a government which is ploughing money into Sydney and turning it into grid lock. I think people in Yamba that I speak to wonder what this is all about. Is it throwing out a kite flying project to the people up there to see what kind of response they’d get?  ….I won’t link it to the Mega Port but it’s a similar thing, it causes a lot of concern and angst in the community….if you go onto the website of the draft strategy you punch in “cruise terminals”, “Yamba” nothing comes up – plenty of opportunity for feedback but very scant information on the actual proposal itself. But overseas in Britain and Europe you can call… to book your passage [with] Nobel Caledonia for an Australian Coastal Odyssey, 22 nights from 11,000 pounds….the Caledonian Deck Superior for sole use that’s 15,500 pounds sterling per passenger….their itinerary takes you from Cairns you know down to Melbourne and on or about the morning of October 24 2018 you’ll be landing on Day 16 …in Yamba. “Over breakfast we arrive at the mouth of the Clarence River and the popular holiday resort town of Yamba famed for its spectacular beaches and local seafood. ‘ So we will be retracing the steps of the “explorer Mathew Flinders who visited Yamba in 1799” and we might a look at the Lighthouse no cost and we might go into “the Yamba Historical Museum” gold coin donation or we can duck over to the “Iluka Nature Reserve” no cost and be back on the boat for lunch. Because they trap all of your money, these multinational cruise companies. But that’s what’s going to happen. We’ve had politicians walking along – photo opportunities – and this is the scheduled visitation to Yamba. With no community consultation whatsoever, no feasibility study of whether it is practical or not…..I’ve spoken to retailers in Yamba, they already say they are having a bumper couple of years with the road works that are going on, the bridge works and the amount of tourists coming here by road…. I just think this is a state government overlaying a cookie cutter approach to sort of international, elite tourism and it is quite inappropriate for a small sea port like Yamba but might be appropriate in a place like Eden which has and deep harbour or Coffs which doesn’t have the difficulties of crossing the bar and the lower drafts ….our staff has specifically put this out so this has to be knocked down…let them sail on to Coffs Harbour…..”

Clr Novak described the cruise ship proposal as “a thought bubble” which first came to her attention when earlier this year the NSW Deputy Premier Barilaro announced cruise ships for Yamba and pointed out that the proposal “didn’t really have any social license". She went on to say that no-one "had done any community consult at all around having the bigger ships through here” and that it was incorrect to use the term “further consultation” as she couldn’t recall there being any all consultation at all. Clr. Novak stressed "it’s really important that we actually go to our community and ask them what they want, what they want to see for the future" and, if there is a business case to eventually have these ships entering the port, then council needs to have all adverse practical, environmental, and cultural information before it in order for councillors to make an informed decision.

Clr. Kingsley demonstrated the art of straddling a fence when he urged; "Let's not get lost in all of this because I think it's a bit broader than just cruise ships and I too have concerns about the environmental and in particular the cultural impacts of any potential cruise ship operations.." and then went on to vote for the final motion leaving the door open for cruise ships in the Clarence estuary to be in the final version of the NSW Government sea transport strategy. 

Lastly,  Clr. Simmons admitted receiving “a dozen or so emails” with but all one expressing concern and asked councillors not to support the officer’s recommendation and “that there had been no consultation with the community up ‘til now”. In spite of these admissions he blithely voted to open the door wide to a sea transport plan for Yamba that has no boundaries or limitations due to its deliberate vagueness.

I cannot finish this post without pointing out Clr. Baker’s expressed desire to fill those “irrational”, “hysterical, screeching” Lower Clarence residents and two of his fellow councillors with “a boatload of calm down pills”, maybe even more than one boatload. His continuing efforts to establish a full-blown conspiracy theory was worthy of a Donald Trump. While his assertions of a phantom cruise ship sailing into the Clarence River and parking there for the last two years and an indefinable cruise terminal already in existance were both masterpieces of absurdity. 

“We are already a cruise terminal, ships that are capable already come in……we should not simply fall over because there is fifteen or twenty people who have listened to Clr. Clancy or whoever instructs him to carry these messages to say; stop everything, do not allow anything to even be considered…We don’t have to say to the state government that they’ve gotta be environmentally sustainable – that’s all covered, forget that. It might be great soapbox stuff but for this council it is a non-event….we should just leave this....There has been a cruise ship in the Clarence Valley for two years, parked variously at Palmers Island and at Harwood*”. Clr. Baker was also in a mood “to calm the horses” and decried community concerns saying “That people who go out at this stage on some imaginative opposition are misleading people, they are trying to make themselves relevant…”

*Not so coincidentally Palmers Island have a waterfront site owned by a shipbuilder and Harwood has a commercial slipway where unladened yachts, small day cruise ships, island ferries, barges and small cargo ships have from time to time been laid up for repair, repaint or refit (see images below taken at Harwood Slipway). Boats such as these are of course not what is coming into Port of Yamba next year on its maiden voyage into the Clarence – it will be a 4,200 gross tonnage, 90.6m long,15.3m wide, five decks high, foreign-owned ocean-going cruise ship with up to 114 passengers. A ship which has already done irreparable damage to a pristine reef earlier this year.

You can listen to much of what Clancy, Ellem, Baker, Novak and others said here at https://soundcloud.com/clarence-valley-council/ordinary-council-meeting-21-november-2017-part-1#t=2:00:39.

What became apparent during the debate was that only Greg Clancy, Peter Ellem and Debrah Novak had given some thought to the issues, listened to Lower Clarence residents and voted against opening the door to the international cruise industry. These three councillors recognised that any council decision made on 21 November would be based on a complete absence of planning information and no prior consultation. 

What has become obvious over the last few weeks is that very few people trust the Berejiklian Government's intentions with regard to the Port of Yamba and, this appears to include some of those councillors who actually voted on 21 November to invite the state government to continue to move forward with its plans. 

What has also has come to light after the Future Transport 2058 communications team visited Grafton for the day on 27 November 2017 is that the Berejiklian Government intends to fully exercise its power over New South Wales waterways and, expects to proceed with the creation of a cruise ship terminal no matter what position local government, local communities and traditional owners might hold.

It appears that to a distant Liberal-Nationals government down in Sydney the people living within the Clarence River estuary matter far less than the commercial goals of multinational cruise lines.

Perhaps Premier Berejiklian should think back on what went down - politically and on the ground - when her predecessor supported Metgasco Limited's push to create gas fields across the Northern Rivers region. Then cast her mind a few years futher back to what happened when the federal government supported a proposal to dam and divert water from the Clarence River system.

See any gas fields or a huge new dam and pipeline, Premier? 

BACKGROUND

THE OFFICER RECOMMENDATION

That Council tender a submission to the Draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy which includes the following points:

Clarence Valley Council:
* is supportive of infrastructure strategies, initiatives and improvements which promote sustainable economic and environmental development, and support the growth and well-being of local communities and businesses. In particular, the development of a “cruise terminal” for Yamba should be of an appropriate scale pertaining to the boutique port, the capacity of local physical, economic and social infrastructure, and sensitive to the local Aboriginal cultural beliefs.

* requests further consultation and engagement with Council and the broader community for those projects within the Future Transport 2056 Plan which are identified for investigation.

THE FINAL WORDING OF CR. CLANCY’S MOTION – seconded by Cr. Novak & supported by Cr. Ellem

That Council tender a submission to the Draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy which includes the following points:

Clarence Valley Council:

*       Is supportive of infrastructure strategies, initiatives and improvements which promote environmentally sustainable economic development, and support sustainable growth and well-being of local communities and businesses but specifically exclude the option of the development of a “cruise terminal” for Yamba due to adverse practical, cultural, environmental and social impacts.
*      Requests further consultation and engagement with Council and the broader community for those projects within the Future Transport 2056 Plan which are identified for investigation.

THE FINAL WORDING OF CR. BAKERS’S MOTION* – seconded by Cr. Williamson

That Council tender a submission to the Draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy saying that:
Clarence Valley Council requests further consultation and engagement with Council and the broader community for those projects within the Future Transport 2056 Plan which are identified for investigation.

* This motion became the adopted Council resolution

TEXT OF THE 20 NOVEMBER 2017 LETTER NOT READ INTO THE RECORD ON 21 NOVEMBER 2017

“I spent 22 years in the shipping industry based at the port of Yamba running Yamba Shipping with Captain Ron King.
We spent our time attracting whatever cargo and pleasure vessels we could in order try and expand and promote the port. We invariably had to cut our
ideas down to size due to the vagaries of dealing with a river port which
was constantly silting up and governments both state and federal which did
not understand the needs of the commercial shipping industry.
One of the avenues we tried was to attract small and specialist cruise
vessels here particularly during the nineties and early part of this
century.
At all times the companies that we approached required the following:
- Safe berth - the only berth is Goodwood island which is owned by the RMS
and controlled by the Yamba Port Authority. It is possible that a ship could
anchor in the river but there are restrictions. This would have to be
checked with the Port personnel.
- Customs facilities - officers would have to come from Coffs Harbour to
clear people in if it was allowed - that is not guaranteed. Obviously if a
ship has been cleared inward prior to arriving at the port that would
assist. Maybe you would only deal with small Australian vessels.
- Minimum draft of 4 metres is likely to be required. Those vessels would be
small and it may not be economic for them to bring small numbers of
passengers to Yamba. As I remember the maximum allowable draft would 3 to 3.5 metres plus the height of tide.
- What would the people do here? - what is there right on our doorstep that
would attract people to come? Most cruises have essential ingredients - big
cities; amazing countryside;  challenging adventure sports etc etc.
Yes this is a beautiful area but you need to be able to transport the
passengers very quickly and efficiently to different attractions.
It is unrealistic to think you can bring in larger vessels which would
provide the economies of scale. They would be too big to enter the port both in length, breadth and draft.
- we endeavoured to get the rock reef removed at one time during the late
nineties in order to get vessels of 6 metres draft plus into the port but
after some investigation and discussion with the politicians of the time
from Mayor Joy Matthews to Steve Cansdell and federal politicians we decided we had to back off because of the damage it would cause to the relationship with the indigenous people of the Clarence Valley.
-dredging would undoubtedly be required just to remove siltation at the bar
and the other notorious areas such as Goodwood Island reach and the
environmental considerations that have to be gone through before that can
happen are enormous. It is also an extremely expensive operation.
If you tried to anchor vessels off shore and bring passengers in by barge
you would need very calm conditions which are rare.
My belief is that it is a waste of time to pursue this idea. Hope this
helps.”

DAY CRUISE SHIP “D’CRUISE” NEAR HARWOOD SLIPWAY IN 2014
Photograph supplied
SYDNEY HAROUR CRUISE SHIP "MV CAPTAIN COOK'S EXPLORER" AT HARWOOD SLIPWAY
Photograph found at Harwood Marine

Monday, 27 November 2017

A noisy, visually intrusive marine industrial zone on flood prone Palmers Island was never going to be a good idea


This was never going to be good idea. Applying to rezone rural land in order to create a noisy, visual intrusive marine industrial precinct so near to residences, on flood prone land on an island with known riverbank instability, in order to build vessels ranging from 6 metres to 35 metres in length and refit/maintain other vessels.

Something Mayor Jim Simmons, Deputy-Mayor Jason Kingsley, along with Cllrs. Andrew Baker, Arthur Lysaught, Richie Williamson and Karen Toms, failed to fully appreciate when it came before Clarence Valley Council for a second time in November 2016.

The Daily Examiner, 25 November 2017, p.5:
The NSW Government’s planning Gateway has again knocked back Yamba Welding and Engineering’s proposed marine industrial precinct at Palmers Island.

This has been the second time in three years the plans have been denied by the government, and while Yamba Welding and Engineering managing director Bill Collingburn said he would continue to negotiate with the State Government, he would not rule out the potential that the company would “vote with their feet” and move interstate.

In the Gateway’s decision made on November 10, the Department of Planning and Environment deputy secretary of planning services Marcus Ray said the plan should not proceed due to a lack of demonstrated need for additional zoned land at the location, its inconsistencies with Clarence Valley Industrial Lands Policy and the North Coast Regional Plan 2036.

“The potential for noise and visual impacts on the amenity of the surrounding locality are considered unacceptable,” Mr Ray’s decision said.

Mr Collingburn said the latest decision was not the end of the project.

“We have got other avenues to explore, and we will be doing that, so this is not the end of it,” Mr Collingburn said.

“We spend more than $2 million a year in the Valley, and that’s a lot of money.

“We’ve been here 43 years and employ 32 people, we’ve got 10 young apprentices who would otherwise have gone to Sydney, and with this plan we have the potential to triple it.

“This plan has been well received by Clarence Valley Council and the community at large who want to see more jobs in the area.

“We want to stay here, and the government has left the door open, but if they decree we can’t expand then we will vote with our feet.”

Friday, 24 November 2017

Another local speaking out against the cruise ship industry coming to the Clarence River estuary


Clarence Valley Independent, Letter to the Editor, 14 November 2017:

It is rare for me to get so steamed up that I feel compelled to write a letter to the editor. “Cruise Terminal Slated for Yamba” (CVI 1/11/17). Seriously?

Oh, this will be good for business, good for economic development, good for growth! What is it about the human race that they cannot get their minds past the almighty $ sign? Why do we want growth? Yamba is beautiful as it is. The peace and tranquillity, at least partially the reason we love living here, is already under threat as the highway to Brisbane nears completion and trip times of under three hours can be anticipated.

Have we not seen what became of the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and now, regrettably, Byron Bay? When I first visited Surfers Paradise you could count the high rise buildings on the fingers of one hand, and two or three of those were only about ten stories. It was a lovely little place. I suppose there must be some people who think it’s a lovely place now, but I never seem to meet them. There was a time you could have your afternoon nap in the middle of the main street of Byron Bay. These days it is a constant stream of cars driving round and round the streets desperately hoping to find a parking space before its time to go home again!

So now, in the slavish pursuit of growth and economic development, are we going to do the same thing to Yamba? The only kind of growth that would be really good is if we could actually grow the planet itself, to meet the needs and expectations of an ever growing population. As for economic growth, I imagine, if you were to ask the majority of people who live here, they would tell you they didn’t come to Yamba to make their fortunes. Even those operating local businesses must surely have done the arithmetic and decided that their enterprise was never going to feature in Forbes; but it would fund the kind of lifestyle you cannot find in a city. If the almighty dollar is so important then go to the cities; go to where the market is, don’t try to drag the market here.

Patrick Roberts, Yamba

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Was the NSW Port Authority even aware of Noble Caledonia cruise line's plan to enter the Port of Yamba in 2018?


On or about 23 October 2017 NSW Minister for Maritime, Roads and Freight Melinda Pavey, along with Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance and Nationals MP for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser, jointly announced “An investigation into a new International Cruise Ship Terminal for the NSW mid North Coast will start as part of a future transport blueprint, with Coffs Harbour and Yamba identified as potential locations.”


So much for the promised “investigation” before the starter's gun was fired.

On 20 November 2017 ABC North Coast's Facebook page revealed that the cruise ship’s scheduled ‘visit’ to Yamba was “not confirmed”:

A UK-based company is advertising an ocean cruise that includes a stop at Yamba.
The website for Noble Caledonia offers places on an Australian Coastal Odyssey which departs from Thursday Island in October next year.
The 90-metre-long Caledonia Sky will sail for 22 nights down Australia's east coast at a cost of more than $19,000 each for about 100 passengers.
One of the destinations listed is the north coast port of Yamba, but the state's Port Authority says there is no confirmed booking for the ship.
The ABC is seeking comment from the company.

Now the Noble Caledonia cruise line can formally request entrance to the Port of Yamba anytime up to 72 hours before “Caledonian Sky”’s arrival - although as an ocean-going ship requiring pilotage it would probably need to announce its intentions and book the pilot much sooner than that - so the Port Authority of NSW probably doesn’t have a confirmed booking yet.

Or is this response by the Port Authority more along the lines of a diplomatic face saver because Minister Pavey hasn’t told this state agency of a seemingly cosy little agreement she has with this cruise line?

Should Lower Clarence residents be checking the political donations register to see if the cruise ship industry has been making political donations to the NSW Nationals recently?

Sunday, 19 November 2017

FACT CHECK: Size comparison - cargo vessel Island Trader and cruise ship Caledonian Sky


The debate concerning the Sydney-driven proposal to make the Port of Yamba a cruise ship destination continues.

I have noticed there has been some comment on social media that the small cruise ships Yamba could expect to have ‘visit’ would be same size or smaller than the Island Trader which used Yamba as its home port for around 17 years.

The phrase “small cruise ship” is being taken literally and the conclusion invited is that these cruise ships are so small there is nothing to be concerned about.

To assist with a more accurate size comparison I have laid out the dimensions of the cargo vessel MV Island Trader and the passenger ship MV Caledonian Sky below.

The comparison indicates that if the proposal goes ahead the average small cruise ship entering the Clarence River estuary is likely to be at least twice the size of the Island Trader.

# This is MV Island Trader

The Island Trader was built in 1981, has 485 gross tonnage, dead weight of 242t*, is 38.8m long, 9m wide and has a maximum draft of 2.8m.

This cargo vessel is owned by Lord Howe Island Sea Freight Pty Ltd and since 2009 has called Port Macquarie its home port.


# This is the small cruise ship MV Caledonian Sky due to enter Port of Yamba on or about 24 October 2018

The Caledonian Sky was built in 1991, has 4,200 gross tonnage, dead weight of 645t*, is 90.6m long, 15.3m wide and has a maximum draft of 4.25m.

This passenger ship is reportedly owned by Noble Caledonia Limited and is currently sailing under the flag of Bahamas.

* Dead Weight is the maximum weight of the cargo, crew, passengers, stores and bunkers that it can safely carry when loaded so that it settles in the water to the Plimsoll line.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Is the NSW Berejiklian Government cruising for a bruising on the Clarence River?


It would appear that the Clarence Valley may be less than whole-heartedly enthusiastic about the NSW Berejiklian Coaltion Government's plans for the Port of Yamba.

Editor Bill North at The Daily Examiner, 25 October 2017, p.9:

Cruisin’ for a bruisin’

ONCE again dollar-sign gazes are cast in the direction of the pristine Clarence River estuary.

The Future Transport 2056 strategy announced by the NSW Government yesterday is considering Coffs and Yamba as potential ports for international cruise ships.

But I think the suggestion of a cruise ship terminal at Yamba could turn into a shipwreck before the idea ever sets sail.

It harks back to the ‘Eastgate Port’ proposal being pushed by developers which has ruffled feathers of residents, activist groups and politicians alike.

There are plenty of obstructions standing in the way of such a large scale development in the Clarence River.

Heavy dredging will be required to navigate the Yamba Bar, which happened to be the subject of a landmark native title claim for the Yaegl people in August.

Then where to build? The mind boggles when looking at aerial photographs of the Yamba estuary. To upgrade the current marina it’s difficult to imagine Hickey Island and Dart Island escaping impact.

Creating a gimmick stopover for lavish spenders would undoubtedly provide a significant economic boost for the region, but would also redefine Yamba as a tourist destination. And something tells me we like Yamba just the way it is, thank you very much.

Editor Bill North at The Daily Examiner, 26 October 2017, p.7:

WHILE massive industrial harbours dominate major river mouths throughout the developed world, forever and a day the Clarence River has managed to resist such a human-induced transformation and maintain its pristine beauty.

The river delta provided many a natural barrier for early explorers of the coastline, and no doubt helps explain the low population of the region compared to other, more accessible major river systems.

Just take a look down the coast at Newcastle to see coal loaders, ships and warehouses flood the landscape of its vast river delta system.

We’ve grown used to shunning large-scale port developments. We’ve come to expect environmental priorities will win the day. Some cling onto this inertia with hope, others find it a frustrating impediment to progress.

This week the NSW Government broached the idea of an international terminal at Yamba.

Many confidently declare that such a project will never get off the ground. Such statements are either naive or a prophetic summation of the strong will of the people of the Clarence because you can bet your bottom dollar developers from across the seas are admiring the untapped potential of such a destination – for industry, tourism or whatever makes a quick buck.


25 October 2017 David Whitby Getting a boat of that size in the Clarence would be a HUGE problem due to the lack of water depth at several places leading to the Goodwood wharf. Then there would be a traffic problem through to the Highway, not to mention the lack of facilities ....or NO facilities at the Goodwood wharf. Just another pipe dream.

29 October 2017 Bill Robb The blokes dreaming, there's not a chance as the reef at the entrance to the clarence is too high. If you dont mind dredging or blowing the reef down to size, then it could happen! Good luck with that environmental impact statement. Coffs would be the only engineering option available. The Jetty harbour would need some major work at the entrance and dredging of the harbour, not to mention fixing up the rest of the place. Plus I live in Coffs, so of course I am going to be biased.


31 October 2017 Michelle Argent I'm deeply sceptical about the whole thing particularly in light of Chris Gulaptis' media comment that Goodwood Island (Yamba Port) could not be used because it was used for live cattle exports. It is not but that is part of Euen's megaport insane proposal. Makes me think this is a softly softly approach to step 1 - get dredging done and navigate negotiations with our local aboriginal elders regarding the reef

2 November 2017 Karen von Ahlefeldt Fully agree


1 November 2017 Lloyd Palmer They would have to discharge ballast before the bar crossing, that will include anything tropical exotic and nasty

1 November 2017 Peter Lowry What Berejiklian as well ?

1 November 2017 Lloyd Palmer Whatever that is it sounds nasty

1 November 2017 Billy Walker And to mention the most significant site, the Dirrangan Reef which is sacred to the Yaegl Traditional Owners and the wider Aboriginal communities on the North Coast of NSW

2 November Billy Walker The Yaegl Traditional Owners have protection orders for the protection of the reef, known to the Yaegl people as Durrarngan reef, regardless of any proposals we must be notified under the Native Title Act, this also applies to any further dredging in and around the mouth of the river

3 November 2017 Matty Carlin Maybe I'm way out of the loop, but WHY would you think there would be such a push for a cruise ship terminal?
Seriously.
There's no transport options.
Nothing overly touristy to see or stay at.
Next to no infrastructure.
Yamba cannot be expanded on due to swamp, river & National Park.
So many things.
A terminal is a place of passenger exchange, or somewhere to get off to do touristy things.
I honestly can't envision it becoming a feasible and logical process.
If anything I think it would be great for the area to expand on the Slipway to encourage some vessels to use it for repairs, etc. Would bring in jobs and external income to the area which is what is lacking.

4 November 2017 Michelle Argent Another excellent commentary on this issue on northcoastvoices.blogspot.com in 3/11 blog. We are going to have to be very alert. Write to the Minister as recommended in this blog.

4 November 2017 Colin Beeby When you look at the mouth of the Clarence and then a shot of a cruise ship, you have to laugh. Then look at the mayor and Govt.members talking about a conjunction and fall over laughing.

4 November 2017 Peter Appleton Matthew I could be wrong but I believe ships of similar draught have worked the Clarence over the years without impacting on the reef or the need for extra dredging etc.

5 November 2017 Sebastian Rooks I am of the same opinion, however we need to be certain that this is not an opening salvo to get shipping in.
The way they have gone about this is alarming.

5 November 2017 Colin Ogilvie Could you supply dates and details of such visits ?

5 November 2017 Peter Appleton No Colin but someone mentioned it on another forum. The ships mentioned were The Island Trader (Yamba Trader), The Avondale, The Vili and The Kuri Pearl. I don't really know any more than that or if there were any issues with them.

5 November 2017 Matty Carlin The Island Trader is half that size.

5 November 2017 Kate Maclaren Nooo! That would be tragic!

5 November 2017 Michelle Argent What the bureaucrats don 't or won't understand is that people flock here precisely because the clarence coast is natural and not too touristy. Crass cruise ships of this type are the very thing that are not wanted. Write to your local member and the Minister for Infrastructure and be heard otherwise the punters and lobbyists will win out!

6 November 2017 Matthew Smith Liz Mercy-Bushell the whole community needs to stand up on this it could be the thin edge of the wedge

Clarence Valley IndependentLetter to the Editor, 7 November 2017:

Valley Watch is alarmed to read the joint media release from Ministers Melinda Pavey (Roads, Maritime and Freight) and Andrew Constance (Transport and Infrastructure) and Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser which states unequivocally “In October 2018, the Cruise Ship Caledonian Sky plans to stop off at Yamba as part of the Australian Coastal Odyssey”.

Talk about being treated like mushrooms! They claim it is part of the Future Transport 2056 strategy, but this “strategy” hasn’t yet been presented to the community of Yamba, and when the Future Transport team does come in late November, its mobile van will visit Grafton and Coffs Harbour. But will it come to Yamba, the area most affected? Apparently not.

There are just too many unanswered questions. Cruise ships like these use their auxiliary diesel  motors non-stop when they are moored to provide lighting, air conditioning and heating.

That means diesel fumes wafting over Yamba and Iluka all day and night. In May last year P&O was reportedly fined $15,000 by the NSW Environment Protection Authority for exceeding its diesel emissions limits.

They generate dangerous wastes and produce sewage, grey water and solid waste which are stored on board. Just one accidental discharge could do irreparable damage to our estuary, our fishing industry and our reputation. And accidents do happen.

There needs to be careful, painstaking consideration of all aspects of this proposal before our parliamentarians and councillors agree. Instead we seem to have a reckless, off-the-cuff endorsement of a potentially dangerous project.

Ros Woodward
President
November 2, 2017

The Daily Examiner, 9 November 2017, p9:

Cruisin’ for an eco bruisin’

BY NOW most Daily Examiner readers will have heard about the Berejiklian Government announcement that the Port of Yamba is being considered as a “small cruise ship” destination and possible site for a cruise terminal.

Such ships currently operating in Australian waters can be as big as 5000 tons with a carrying capacity of more than 800 passengers.

What some people may not realise, that even before any completed investigation or genuine community consultation, the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey has announced that the first small cruise ship will arrive in October next year.

Her office reportedly identified that ship as the Caledonian Sky, which is a 26-year-old, 90.6m long vessel with 4200 gross tonnage, a beam width of 15.2m, maximum draft of 4m and a carrying capacity of up to 114 passengers.

This is the same cruise ship which caused irreversible damage to a candidate UNESCO World Heritage Site pristine reef system off Indonesian Papua in March this year, and the London-based cruise operator has reportedly been fined £350 million by the Indonesian Government.

Such accidents are relatively common among small cruise ships as official maritime incident reports between 2008-2017 mention repeated groundings, collisions with wharfs and breakwaters, in port onboard fires and accidental contaminated water/fuel discharges. Norovirus-infected passengers have also been reported on small cruise ships and excessive air emissions found on inspection by authorities.

This is not the only information Minister Pavey was not broadcasting to the Lower Clarence.

What the Berejiklian Government is also not telling Clarence Valley residents is that along with Eden and Coffs Harbour, the Port of Yamba is to be designated a “multipurpose port” which will ideally include “commercial shipping, cruise shipping and Defence facilities”.

Apparently this generic vision for NSW regional ports will likely translate in the environmentally sensitive Clarence River estuary into an estimated 20km of capital and development river dredging, a possible multi-storied cruise ship terminal with parking for 400 cars, 20 coaches, eight trucks and 20 taxis as well as a new commercial shipping wharf capable of berthing freighters up to 300m long carrying “liquids, timber, coal, iron ore...”.

Locals might remember that this is the same ship length as one class of super freighters mentioned in that private proposal to turn Yamba into an industrialised mega port.

When considering this State Government preferred style of coastal development, the words loss of environmental and cultural values, increased traffic generation, industrial level noise, congestion and waste management immediately spring to mind.

One wonders if Clarence Valley Council and the Yamba Chamber of Commerce will be as enthusiastic about those cruise ship plans once they realise that these ships are merely the thin end of the wedge that NSW Nationals and Sydney-centric Liberals hope to drive into a Lower Clarence community resolved to keep the estuary clean, green and seafood productive.

Judith M Melville, Yamba