Showing posts with label tourism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tourism. Show all posts

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

VOICES THE BEREJIKLIAN GOVERNMENT DOESN'T WANT TO HEAR: comment on NSW Ministers Pavey & Constance's not so brilliant idea to invite cruise ships into the Clarence River Estuary


Northern Rivers voices telling it like it is.......

FacebookNo Mega Port Yamba, 15 November 2017:

Victoria Paine Dear Councillors,

I wish to express my deep concern and OBJECTION to the proposal that the Port of Yamba be designated a cruise ship destination and/ the creation of a cruise ship terminal.

My primary concerns are environmental. The self evident environmental damage cannot be justified by monetary gain.

In addition, I am concerned re the reduction on local amenity and negative impact on the quality of life of the community and on local ground based tourism which relies heavily on the integrity of the natural environment.

I urge you to strongly oppose this damaging proposal.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Victoria Paine

MBBS. MPH. BA. FRACGP.

Angourie.

The Daily Examiner, 29 November 2017, p.10:

Yamba port not in ship-shape condition

I would like to thank Valley Watch for keeping the people of the Clarence informed. After visiting their stall at the Yamba River Market this week, I am greatly concerned regarding the lack of public knowledge of the 4200 tonne cruise ship which will be docking in Yamba in October 2018.

Did you know about this cruise ship? I didn’t.

However on September 24, 2017 the NSW Government announced a plan to investigate constructing international cruise terminals in Yamba and Coffs Harbour.

This is part of the government’s launch of the Future Transport 2056 Strategy. Ms Pavey’s office announced: “In October 2018, the Cruise Ship Caledonian Sky plans to stop off at Yamba as part of the Australian Coastal Odyssey.”

There have been a few indications over the years of there being a Port in Yamba; it was even mentioned in the Yamba Survey a couple of years ago. If Yamba’s economy is going to increase by this ship docking in Yamba, think again. There is hardly time for a swim. Please have a look at the itinerary for the holiday makers’ short stay in the Clarence (www.noble-caledonia.co.uk)

The most important question I ask myself is what happens in rough weather? If we think back to the Island Trader, how many times was it forced to stay off shore due to inclement weather?

This cruise liner is eight times heavier than the Island Trader. What guarantee is there that this vessel will not harm the protected Dirrangun Reef? Have the Yaegl people been consulted? Once the reef is damaged, the damage is forever. I wonder if this has been considered or conveniently forgotten.

Yamba Community including the Yaegl people, Clarence Valley Council and the Chamber of Commerce all need to be in consultation before permission is given to allow such a vessel to come into Yamba waters.

The consequences of allowing this vessel into Yamba waters could be catastrophic.

Ilma Hynson, Yamba

The Daily Examiner, 23 November 2017, p.11:

No fortune from hop off, hop on cruise

Sorry to tell you, Ray (Hunt), that the proposed cruise ship visit in October 2018 will not introduce much money or employment to Yamba (Ship Size 21/11).

According to its own itinerary, Caledonian Star will land passengers after breakfast on board before a trip to Iluka Rainforest or YambaMuseum and then back on board for lunch before heading south.

Not many fortunes to be made there!

Gary Whale, Yamba

Facebook:

PE Barclay Tourists come to Yamba because its beaches are natural and so is the river.
Tourism is what keeps Yamba alive.
When we go messing with nature to allow cruise ships in to Yamba we have to calculate to what benefit is it to Yamba if the passengers eat and sleep on the boats and don't spend much locally.
Yamba is unique because of its natural environment and if we take that away what do we have left?
Coffs Harbour is already commercialised and cruise ships would be better to go there.

Greg Clancy The Clarence Estuary will never be a cruise ship port without major damage being done to the estuary as it just isn't suitable as it now stands. Yes I am scared of what damage might be done if the proposal gets legs. I don't have a problem with the current level of boat/ship activity although even with the limited commercial operations of the past we ended up with Fire Ants at the Goodwood Island wharf. There are real bio-security issues as well as ecological issues. The sands and mudflats of the Estuary provide habitat for many species of migratory shorebirds that migrate here from the northern hemisphere. Australia has signed a number of international treaties to protect them and their habitat. Water from the bilge can carry exotic organisms that could ruin local fisheries, both professional and amateur. Do I need to go on?

The Daily Examiner, 28 November 2017, p.9:

Crusing around facts

It is simply not true that “You can already cruise into Yamba” (D.Ex 24.11.2017).

The Google search attributed to Councillor Ellem is clearly dated “9th October 2018”.

I think Yambaites would have noticed a 90 metre long, 15 metre wide cruise ship 
coming into port!

We can argue about the merits of such a visit, but facts are stubborn things.

Gary Whale, Yamba

The Daily Examiner, 5 December 2017, p.9:

Community input

The Berejiklian Government in Sydney tells us that its “Future Transport 2056 Strategy and Plans have been created with input from the community since the program began in 2016. So far, we’ve engaged with over 40,000 people across the State in face-to-face and digital consultations”.

Allegedly towards that end the NSW Dept. of Transport had a “React Future Transport 2056” van in Grafton for the day on November 27.

I hopped on a bus and went to Grafton to visit the van because the “Draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy” documents had only two dot points mentioning maritime infrastructure development/ cruise terminal in Coffs Harbour/Yamba and I wanted to find out more, as this draft strategy is scheduled to become a final document in 2018.

I told one of the staff manning this van that I had read in the local newspapers about the van and asked if they could tell me what it was all about.

In response the staff member informed me that the government was going all around the state asking people what they felt they needed when it came to transport – not just for years far into the future but for smaller time frames like 10 years. That they weren’t just looking at what trains and buses were available, but they were also looking at roads, cycle ways and even air travel.

I was then asked if I wanted to give my opinion on what I felt the area needed.

What was strikingly absent from the conversation thus far was any mention of what else was in that draft document which might be thought very relevant to the Clarence Valley – the plan to make the Port of Yamba an official cruise ship destination and possibly build a cruise ship terminal in the Clarence River estuary.

So I introduced that particular topic into the discussion and this is what I found out:

1. There was no information available on the government’s proposal for a cruise ship terminal other than those two brief dot points;
2. The “React Future Transport 2056” van would continue to travel around the state but it was never coming to Yamba;
3. There was no timeline for when investigation of a cruise terminal in the estuary would begin; and
4. The communities of Yamba and Iluka would only be consulted when a site for the cruise terminal was being considered and that this community consultation would probably occur as a part of the Environmental Impact Statement process.

The Berejiklian Government obviously has no intention of opening a face-to-face dialogue with communities living within the Clarence River estuary or at the mouth of the river before plans for the Port of Yamba become set government policy and, will probably avoid any meeting with Yaegl traditional owners for just as long if Ministers Pavey and Constance think they can get away with such a blatant snub.

After all the government has already had discussions with the people it thinks matter – it spoke with representatives of the international cruise ship industry in the first half of last year.

Judith M. Melville, Yamba

Recent voices:



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

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.

Friday, 17 November 2017

It is being suggested to Lower Clarence communities that inviting the cruise ship industry into the Clarence River estuary will bring financial gain to their towns - but will it?


At this month’s ordinary monthly meeting Clarence Valley Council will be considering whether or not to give in principle support to the NSW Government’s proposal to designate the Port of Yamba as a cruise ship destination and possibly build a cruise ship terminal in the Clarence River estuary.

The Berejiklian Government appears to be presenting this proposal as a way to increase the annual regional income of the Clarence Valley. But is it and will it?

Nowhere have I found any mention of the business model employed by the global cruise ship industry. An industry which seeks to create demand through the judicious use of political donations and paid lobbyists.

According to  Professor Ross Klein, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research, Memorial University of Newfoundland; “Standing up to a cruise line can sometimes be difficult, especially given the industry’s generous contributions to political campaigns, their active lobbying efforts, and their degree of influence with mass media” [Klein, R. (2013) The Cruise Industry’s Business Model: Implications for Ports]

As an example, between 1997-2007 Cruise Line International Association spent US$10 million on lobbying the U.S Congress

In the first instance the business model used by cruise ship operators seeks to have passengers spend most of their money on-board the ship.

So many of the traditional services supplied on a cruise are no longer covered by the upfront cost of the fare and attract an additional charge per use.

Any land-based tours or shopping trips are organised by the cruise operator and not infrequently the cost is not absorbed by the cruise line so a fee for participation is paid by passengers directly to this shipping company.

The fee paid by the cruise operator to a land-based tour business contracted to supply the actual service usually ranges from as little as 10% up to an est. 50% of the fee paid by passengers.

Even when passengers leave the ship to wander around coastal zone towns you can bet that the cruise ship operator will have approached local businesses requesting a fee to include these businesses on a list of recommended shops/cafes/hotels/clubs - because that is part of the business model.


From state government a cruise line expects and often receives reduced harbour fees & charges and from state and local government it expects upgrades in infrastructure worth literally millions of dollars, without giving a firm guarantee that it will continue to use a particular port as a genuine destination rather than as a short "technical call".

What is worse is that once the cruise industry becomes established in a small port there is evidence to suggest that the regular incursion of up to 350 passengers at a time into coastal towns sees a decrease in the number of land-based tourists, who now see these towns as crowded and impersonal - no longer offering an intimate holiday experience.

It is these land-based tourists who fill Yamba and Iluka’s camping grounds, motels, hotels and holiday units and, are more likely to patronise the full range of dining/entertainment/sporting experiences on offer. So to see a significant proportion of them replaced by cruise passengers over time is not likely to compensate for the risk of economic loss during peak holiday periods in the Lower Clarence.

The first small cruise ship is due in Yamba on or about 24 October 2018 and this is it’s published itinerary: arrive during breakfast, disembark to visit “Flinders Well, Yamba Lighthouse, and the Yamba Historical Museum” or “alternatively walk in the nearby Iluka Nature Reserve”, return to ship for lunch and depart in the afternoon.

Now I'm no economist but even I know that this itinerary doesn’t exactly ring the till in a big way for businesses in Yamba or Iluka.

This cruise ship, which is a repeat offender when it comes to reef and coral damage, is probably coming in on the high tide but as it expects to leave in the afternoon it is not going out with maximum water depth under its keel  -  which should ring some alarm bells.

Through the prism of this industry business model the Port of Yamba will not be seen as a boutique destination but merely as one more excuse to extend the number of nights passengers spend on a floating hotel being milked by the hotelier for as much money as possible before they finally leave the cruise at a major city port.

What Australian lobbyists for the cruise industry are not telling the regional ports they are currently attempting to smoodge is that when it comes to Australian east coast cruise destinations Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne accounted for 65% of total passenger onshore visit days and 90% of the home port passenger onshore visit days. [Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)2016 & 2017]

Which means most of the spending money cruise ship passengers have in their wallets is more likely to be spent at large ports.

One cannot escape the suspicion that the health of the Clarence River estuary, existing coastal tourism revenue and safety of the Native Title reef Dirrangun are being placed at risk by this proposal, for what is essentially a dream of financial return for Lower Clarence communities rather than a solid reality.

Interested readers can find more information in the presentations included in the report of an international symposium held in 2013 which can be found at http://www.jbna.org/IS%20-%20Charleston-Report.pdf. For an idea of how many of these not-so-small cruise ships come into a regional harbour once berthing facilities are established see https://www.portauthoritynsw.com.au/port-of-eden/port-services-facilities/eden-cruise-schedule/.

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