Showing posts with label Berejiklian Government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Berejiklian Government. Show all posts

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Only a handful of NSW landowners to face court over Murray-Darling Basin water theft allegations?

ABC News, 8 March 2018:

The NSW Government will prosecute several people over alleged water theft on the Barwon-Darling, eight months after Four Corners investigated the issue.

WaterNSW has named the people it is taking to the Land and Environment Court over alleged breaches of water management rules.

They are prominent irrigator Peter Harris and his wife Jane Harris, who own a major cotton farm near Brewarrina in the state's north-west and were named in the Four Corners story.

The couple have been accused of taking water when the flow conditions did not permit it, and breaching licence and approval conditions.

Three members of another prominent family are also facing charges: cotton grower Anthony Barlow from Mungindi near Moree and Frederick and Margaret Barlow.
The Barlows have been accused of pumping during an embargo and pumping while metering equipment was not working.

WaterNSW gave false figures: Ombudsman

WaterNSW announced the prosecutions an hour before the NSW Ombudsman released a scathing report saying the agency had given the Government incorrect figures on its enforcement actions.

The state's ombudsman, Michael Barnes, found WaterNSW gave incorrect figures when it provided statistics that showed there had been a significant increase in enforcements between July 2016 and November 2017.

"The information provided to us indicated that the updated statistical information from WaterNSW that we'd published was significantly incorrect," he said.

"There had, in fact, been no referrals for prosecutions and no penalty infringement notices issued in the relevant period."

Mr Barnes said he initiated a separate investigation after his office received complaints about the figures, and he found WaterNSW had inflated the statistics.
"As part of our investigation, we confirmed with Revenue NSW that no penalty infringement notices were issued by WaterNSW in the relevant period," he said.

The ombudsman said he raised the issue with WaterNSW, which has admitted to the mistake and apologised.

Mr Barnes also said he believed the error was unintentional.

The agency's CEO, David Harris, said staff have now manually reviewed all actions taken.

"Some of the detail WaterNSW provided was incorrect and, although it was revised, it is not acceptable and we are acting to ensure it does not happen again," he said……

Sunday, 11 March 2018

A brief respite in the NSW Berejiklian Government's war on the natural world

"Clearing under the Code may threaten the viability of certain threatened species at property and local landscape scale. The risk highest in overcleared landscapes where most clearing is likely to occur under the Code." [NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, "Concurrene on Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code", August 2017, p. 3]

Sometime in 2017 a document was prepared for the NSW Minister for Environment & Heritage and Liberal MP for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton to sign in order for increased clearing of native vegetation across New South Wales to occur.

This new land clearing policy came into effect in August of that year but faced a legal challenge.

The Coffs Coast Advocate, 9 March 2018:

THE Land and Environment Court has delivered a massive blow to the NSW Government by ruling its land clearing laws invalid because they were made unlawfully.

The Nature Conservation Council (NCC) launched a legal challenge to the codes last November arguing Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair failed to obtain concurrence from Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton before making the codes, as is required by law.

This morning the government conceded this was the case and NCC chief executive Kate Smolski was was quick to pounce.

"Today's ruling is an embarrassing admission of failure by the government and a great victory for the rule of law and the thousands of people who have supported us in taking this action,” she said.

"It is deeply troubling that the government disregarded the important oversight role of the Environment Minister when making environmental laws but we are even more concerned about the harmful content of the laws themselves.

"By the government's own assessment they will lead to a spike in clearing of up to 45 per cent and expose threatened wildlife habitat to destruction including 99 per cent of identified koala habitat on private land.

"Premier Berejiklian must act now to prevent further plundering of our forests, woodlands and water supplies by scrapping these laws and making new ones that actually protect the environment.”…..

The NSW Government is yet to issue a statement on the decision.


Nature Conservation Council (NCC)

Media Release, 9 March 2017:

Court finds NSW Government land-clearing laws invalid

The Land and Environment Court today ruled the NSW Government’s land-clearing laws invalid because they were made unlawfully.

“The government has bungled the introduction of one of its signature pieces of legislation, and in the process demonstrates its careless disregard for nature in NSW,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.

“Today’s ruling is an embarrassing admission of failure by the Berejiklian government and a great victory for the rule of law and the thousands of people who have supported us in taking this action.”

The Nature Conservation Council, represented by public interest environmental lawyers EDO NSW, launched legal challenge against the government’s land-clearing codes last November.

NCC had argued through its barristers Jeremy Kirk SC and David Hume the codes were invalid because the Primary Industries Minister failed to obtain concurrence of the Environment Minister before making the codes, as is required by law. The government today has conceded this was indeed the case.

“It is deeply troubling that the government disregarded the important oversight role of the Environment Minister when making environmental laws, but we are even more concerned about the harmful content of the laws themselves,” Ms Smolski said.
“By the government’s own assessment, they will lead to a spike in clearing of up to 45% and expose threaten wildlife habitat to destruction, including 99% of identified koala habitat on private land.

“These laws were made against the advice of the scientific community and against the wishes of the vast majority of the many thousands of people who made submissions.

“It would be completely cynical for the government to immediately remake these laws without first correcting their many flaws and including environmental protections the community wants and the science says we need.

“Premier Berejiklian must act now to prevent further plundering of our forests, woodlands and water supplies by scrapping these laws and making new ones that actually protect the environment.”

Ms Smolski pledged to continue the campaign to overturn weak land-clearing laws.
“As the state’s peak environment organization, we will do everything we can to expose the damage of land clearing and will not stop until we have laws that protect nature,” she said.

“These laws are a matter of life or death for wildlife. More than 1000 plant and animal species are at risk of extinction in this state, including the koala and 60 per cent of all our native mammals.

“Land clearing is the main threat to many of these animals, and the laws this government introduced unlawfully are pushing them closer to the brink.

“It is regrettable that we had to take the government to court to make it abide by its own laws, but it demonstrates the critical role organisations like ours play in our democracy.”

Media Release, 2 March 2018:

Environment Minister knew 99% of koala habitat would be exposed to land clearing by contentious new laws, FIO document shows

A document obtained under freedom of information laws shows the Berejiklian government knew its new land clearing laws would cause extensive harm to wildlife habitat but pressed ahead with the changes anyway.

“This is damning evidence that the Environment Minister approved these new laws knowing they would expose 99% of identified koala habitat on private land to clearing,” NCC CEO Kate Smolski said.

“The document also shows the Minister was warned the laws could cause a 45% spike in land clearing and that they would mostly benefit very large agribusinesses that could clear land on a massive scale, not smaller enterprises and farming communities across the state.

“It shows what we have suspected all along – environment policy in NSW is being dictated by the National Party and the powerful agribusiness interests the party represents.

“Minister Upton knew these laws were very bad for threatened species and bushland, yet she approved them anyway. This is a disgrace.”

The document, obtained by EDO NSW for the Nature Conservation Council, was prepared by the Office of Environment and Heritage for the Environment Minister and outlined the consequences of Ms Upton agreeing to land-clearing codes proposed by Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair.

Key warnings in the document include:

* “The regulatory changes will further increase agricultural clearing by between 8% and 45% annually.” (Page 3)
* Clearing under the code risks: “Removing key habitat for threatened species, including koala habitat (less than 1% of identified koala habitat in NSW is protected from clearing under the Code)” and “Increasing vulnerability of threatened ecological communities”. (Page 6)
* If unchecked “such clearing could destroy habitats, cause soil and water quality impacts”. (Page 5)
* “The main benefits are likely to be private benefits for large farming operations which broadscale clear under the Code.” (Page 6)

“These are terrible laws that put our wildlife at risk,” Ms Smolski said. “Premier Berejiklian should act immediately to protect the thousands of hectares of koala habitat at risk by exempting sensitive areas from code-based clearing. “In the longer term, she should go back to the drawing board and draft new laws that protect our precious wildlife and bushland.”

Download the FOI document here


Snapshots from NSW Office of Environment & Heritage"Concurrence on Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code", August 2017:


The respite ended before it really began………

The Guardian, 11 March 2018:

But the government made no delay remaking the laws, announcing on Saturday it had been completed.
“The remade code is identical to the previous one and is an integral part of the new land management framework which gives landowners the tools and certainty they need,” said David Witherdin, the CEO of Local Land Services, which oversees clearing under the codes.
The move was condemned by the NCC.

Monday, 4 December 2017

FACT CHECK: Port of Yamba-Clarence River cruise ship and international cruise ship terminal proposal

In online debates concerning the NSW Government's proposal to make the Port of Yamba an official cruise ship destination and possibly build an international cruise ship terminal I have noticed a few misconceptions creeping in - so this post is a brief fact check.

The misconceptions are coloured red.

* The “MV Caledonian Sky” cruise ship is smaller than the “Island Trader” cargo ship and not much bigger than the Manly Ferry.

“Caledonian Sky” at 4,200 gross tonnage, dead weight of 645t, 90.6m length, 15.3m width, 4.25 maximum draft is over twice the size of the “Island Trader” which is 485 gross tonnage, dead weight of 242t, 38.8m long, 9m wide and maximum draft of 2.8m.

The four Manly ferries are 70 metres in length, 12.5 metres wide, with draughts of 3.3 metres and displace 1,140 tonnes and, only operate in a deep water harbour.

Cruise ships already come into the Clarence River.

There hasn’t been an ocean-going cruise ship carrying passengers enter the Clarence River in a good many years. There is some anecdotal information that one small cruise ship of indeterminate size entered the Clarence River sometime in the 1990s, but that appears to have been both the first and the last time that a local resident can recall its passage which ended with this vessel scraping its bottom on "Dirrangun" reef as it left. 

The last regular passenger service from Sydney to Port of Yamba ended in the mid to late 1950s when the small steamers operating on the NSW North Coast run were withdrawn.

Despite local media reports to the contrary, the “Caledonian Sky” has not entered the Port of Yamba in the past – this cruise ship’s scheduled visit in October 2018 will be her maiden voyage into the Clarence.

* There is not going to be any dredging of the Clarence River entrance or estuary if Port of Yamba becomes a cruise ship destination and an international cruise ship terminal is built.

A representative of the NSW Dept. of Transport raised eyebrows in apparent astonishment when I mentioned that particular belief. Although diplomatically silent the implication was clear - dredging would have to occur.

* Medium to small cruise ships will not have a problem entering the Clarence River because they will have a pilot on board.

In 2015-16 there were 18 ship visits to Port of Yamba, none were cruise ships and the majority of vessels piloted into the Clarence River came in for ship repair at Harwood Island.

However, even with a pilot on board a cruise ship may ground in a relatively narrow navigation channel. The “Regal Princess” grounded in Cairns Harbour in March 2001 as it sailed a 90m wide & est. 8.3 m deep navigation channel with a pilot aboard. The subsequent official investigation found that the dimensions of the Cairns port channel were too restrictive for the 32.25 m wide “Regal Princess”.

Because the Clarence River estuary is strongly tidal the position and width of its main navigation channel can vary and the Yamba-Iluka bar at the river entrance is problematic. 

The bar crossing appears to have been last dredged in 2004.

An Australian Navy tug 29m long, 8m wide with a draft of est. 3.4m grounded on the bar at the river mouth in October 1946 and from time to time cargo ships entering or leaving the Clarence have temporarily grounded when sand builds up outside the river entrance.

* Having cruise ships and a cruise terminal will raise personal incomes in the Lower Clarence Valley.

This argument is often put forward by governments pushing coastal development proposals.

St. John's (population over 108,000) - a regional port in Canada popular with small cruise ships - is currently conducting its own investigation into economic returns from cruise ship visits, because it was told this year that the average amount of money spent onshore by a cruise passenger can be as low as $28.20 and for a crew member as low as $20.79. Note: The Canadian dollar is roughly on par with the Australian dollar.

International cruise lines are usually the source of any financial information on passenger spending and industry observers tend to think that industry figures may be inflated. So it is not surprising to find one independent report published in 2015 states that passenger and crew spending in Cairns was 22 per cent lower than the figure supplied by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) a group representing the interests of cruise lines.

By the industry's own optimistic calculations, if all “Caledonian Sky” passengers come ashore then they should at a minimum spend in total between $4,750 and $5,937 during the five or so hours the ship is moored on the river in October next year.

Except that the cruise ship’s itinerary shows these approximately 114 passengers will have both breakfast and lunch on board ship before sailing away and, in the approx. three hours in between meals, will take a walk up to the Yamba Lighthouse at no charge, visit the Yamba Museum which has a gold coin entrance fee or cross to Iluka to wander the Nature Reserve up to Woody Head and back which is fee free - although it may be possible that the ship rents a mini-bus to transport passengers to Iluka wharf for return to the ship.

However, even then this hardly lives up to the cruise ship industry’s boast that each passenger spends on average $200-$250 a day in Australian regional ports.

* If ships the size of the "Rainbow Warrior" can navigate to the Harwood slipway then quite a few of the small similar size cruise vessels can safely do the same.

The second “Rainbow Warrior was a yacht with 555 gross tonnage, 55m long, 9m wide with a draft of 3m. The third and current “Rainbow Warrior has 855 gross tonnage, deadweight 180t, is 57.9m long, 11.3m wide and has a maximum draft of 5m.

To date I cannot find any cruise ships of similar size operating on the Australian east coast ocean route.

All east coast ships in P&O’s fleet are large ships, as are Holland America’s fleet. Princess Cruises’ ships are all large and, the  Royal Caribbean’s fleet is also composed of large ships. Ditto Carnival’s fleet and Celebrity Cruises’ ships. Norwegian Cruise Line, MCS Cruises and Cunard Line fleets contain only large vessels. While Oceania Cruises’ fleet is composed of somewhat smaller ships, but with drafts nudging 6m to 7m it probably wouldn't consider entering the Clarence . By comparison Noble Caledonia’s single cruise ship on the east coast is the ship with the shallowest draft found to date, but it may have difficulty coming over the bar in October 2018 and/or with swinging around to depart the estuary.

* Cruise lines are philanthropic - they will help people and the environment by giving money to a local cause.

Some but not all cruise lines do occasionally give money to institutions and causes within ports they regularly visit. It is often looked upon by port communities as 'guilty giving'. 

For example, in 2014 one of Carnival Cruise Line's ships severely damaged a section of pristine reef in the Cayman Islands. The next year the Carnival Foundation announced it was giving a $75,000 donation to the Cayman Islands-based Central Caribbean Marine Institute toward restoration of an ecologically distinct and globally endangered coral species. 

The Cayman Islands government had to step in before the cruise line would hand over $100,000 to the Cayman Islands National Trust towards the Magic Reef Restoration Project to cover the 11,000 sq feet of endangered coral that the "Carnival Magic" crushed.

If the international cruise ship industry genuinely had a social conscience then there wouldn't be reports like "Sweat Ships" (2002) which looks at the abuse of workers' rights aboard cruise ships.

* Modern cruising is really a form of eco-tourism

There is nothing inherently ecological about the design and functioning of a modern cruise ship. 

Modern cruise ships:
* predominately still use bunker fuel when underway and diesel/gas power when berthed if there is no dedicated shore electricity supply available to them; 
* give off emissions when these fossil fuels are burned and these emissions can and do sometimes exceed permissible levels of air pollution;
* emit underwater noise which disturbs whales and dolphins;
* are usually noisy when moored or berthed due to the need to generate power and/or provide entertainment for passengers;
* sewerage and waste water storage systems can sometimes malfunction or fail
* have been known to illegally dump sewerage whilst in port;
* will sometimes dump chlorinated swimming pool water overboard;
* sometimes illegally discharge oily waste into the ocean;
* will sometimes have issues with unlawful garbage disposal on some voyages; and
* anti-fouling paint on their hulls leaches into the waters at wharfs and affects the surrounding marine ecosystem.

* The state government will never be able to dredge the bar or the river because of Native Title.

Yes, Native Title covers the Clarence River from just below Ulmarra to the river mouth and out past the two breakwaters where it creates a 350m buffer around "Dirrangan" reef, as well as a narrower ocean water boundary out from the shoreline starting at Woody Head and going on down past Wooli.

Any cruise ship approaching the entrance to the Clarence River would be sailing in waters covered by Native Title.

However, Native Title rights are non-exclusive and so contain a number of qualifications. Therefore people of goodwill across the Clarence Valley and the wider Northern Rivers region will need to speak up in support of the Yaegl People's stated position if the Berejiklian Government decides to proceed with its international cruise ship terminal proposal.

General qualifications on native title rights and interests

8. Native title does not exist in:
(a) Minerals as defined in the Mining Act 1992 (NSW) and the Mining Regulation 2010 (NSW); and
(b) Petroleum as defined in the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 (NSW) and the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982 (NSW).

9. The native title rights and interests described in paragraphs 6 and 7 do not confer:
(a) possession, occupation, use and enjoyment to the exclusion of all others;
(b) any right to control access to, or use of, the Determination Area.

10. The native title rights and interests in the Determination Area are subject to and exercisable in accordance with:
(a) the laws of the State of New South Wales and of the Commonwealth;
(b) the traditional laws acknowledged and traditional customs observed by the Yaegl People; and
(c) the terms of any Indigenous Land Use Agreement, which may be registered by the National Native Title Tribunal in respect of any part of the Determination Area made after the making of this Determination…….

Other interest which existed at the time Native Title over “Dirrangun” was determined are protected.

10. Other interests generally

(a) Rights and interests, including licences and permits, granted by the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, the Clarence Valley Council or of the Commonwealth pursuant to statute or under regulations made pursuant to such legislation.

(b) Rights and interests held by reason of the force and operation of the laws of the State of New South Wales or of the Commonwealth.

(c) Rights and interests of members of the public arising under common law or statute including, but not limited to the following:
(i) any public right to fish;
(ii) the public right to navigate; and
(iii) the international right of innocent passage through the territorial sea.

(d) So far as is confirmed pursuant to section 18 of the Native Title (New South Wales) Act as at the date of the Determination, any existing public access to and enjoyment of:
 (i) waterways;
(ii) the bed and banks or foreshores of waterways;
(iii) coastal waters;
(iv) beaches;
(v) stock routes; and
(vi) areas that were public places at the end of 31 December 1993.

(e) The rights of:
(i) an employee, agent or instrumentality of the State of New South Wales;
(ii) an employee, agent or instrumentality of the Commonwealth;

(iii) an employee, agent or instrumentality of any Local Government Authority, to access the Determination Area and carry out actions as required in the performance of his/ her or its statutory or common law duty.

Sea claim judgment: Yaegl People #2 v Attorney General of New South Wales [2017] FCA 993 (31 August 2017)

Friday, 1 December 2017

Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation expressing their opposition to a proposed cruise ship terminal at Yamba

The following media release was sent to NSW Minister for Maritime, Roads and Freight Melinda Pavey by way of her Twitter account at 7:15pm on 30 November 2017.

Ntscorp Ltd 

Please see the following Press release from the Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation expressing their opposition to a proposed cruise ship terminal at Yamba.

Press release

The Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC wish to respond to recent media reports about a proposed cruise ship terminal at Yamba, which is part of the draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy. Yaegl People are concerned about the lack of consultation that has occurred with the Corporation and the potential damage that the proposal will cause to significant sites.

The Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC does not support the construction of a cruise ship terminal at Yamba. The Yaegl People’s native title rights to the land and waters within the lower Clarence River, as well as over much of the land within their traditional country, was recognised by the Federal Court of Australia on 25 June 2015. The Yaegl People’s native title rights over their sea country was recognised by the Federal Court in 31 August 2017.

Any activities which may impact on the exercise of native title rights must be properly notified in accordance with the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and native title holders must be afforded certain procedural rights, including rights to comment, rights to be consulted and rights to negotiate.

The Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC is concerned that to date, no-one has approached the Corporation to discuss the proposal.

The Chairperson of the Corporation, Billy Walker, said ‘It appears as though decisions such as the construction of a cruise ship terminal, are being considered without any attempt to engage with or consult The Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC. The Corporation is responsible for ensuring that the Dirrungan, one of Yaegl People’s most significant sites, at the mouth of the Clarence River, is protected. There are also other sites of significance to the Yaegl People within the Clarence River, which would be damaged by the proposal.’

The recent Yaegl People’s native title determination over sea country included increased protections for the Dirrungan, including a 350 metre buffer zone to protect the Dirrungan from developments such as the cruise ship proposal.

The Corporation’s Office Manager and Yaegl man, Michael Randall, said ‘We haven’t been consulted yet. We have native title rights over the land and waters at the mouth of the Clarence River, including extending out to sea. It’s a requirement that we be consulted. We are opposed to any actions which might damage the Dirrungan. The State Government has agreed through our sea determination to protect the Dirrungan from destruction.’

Media contact: Michael Bennett (DM via NTSCORP Facebook)

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Clarence Valley Council decides to open its door wide to the cruise ship industry

On 21 November 2017 at Clarence Valley Council’s ordinary monthly meeting Mayor Jim SimmonsDeputy Mayor Jason Kingsley and Crs. Richie WilliamsonArthur Lysaught, and Andrew Baker voted in effect to open council’s doors to the cruise ship industry by indicating in principal support for the Port of Yamba to be a designated cruise ship destination, with the possibility of establishing an international cruise ship terminal within the Clarence River estuary.

The debate in the chamber indicated that councillors received a number of emails on this subject from valley residents and that the majority of these expressed concerns about this Berejiklian Government proposal.

However, community concern was virtually ignored by both council administration and this group of five councillors hell-bent on doing Sydney's bidding after Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis had reportedly lobbied on behalf of the proposal.

As usual Cr. Baker excelled himself when it came to the number of inaccurate statements he could pack into his participation in debate.

Concerned Iluka and Yamba residents now await this…….

FacebookABC North Coast, 21 November 2017:

Billy Walker The Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation held a meeting last week where this issue was raised. Keep an eye out for our response in the local papers in the next week or so.

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 For an idea of how many of these not-so-small cruise ships come into a regional harbour once berthing facilities are established see