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

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to Port of Yamba ended in the mid to late 1950s when the small steamers operating on the NSW North Coast run were withdrawn.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 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/.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Reef destroying cruise ship given NSW Government permission to enter the Clarence River in October 2018


This was the NSW Berejiklian Government in roll-over-the-top-of-Clarence-River-Estuary-communities mode, courtesy of Nationals MP Andrew Fraser and Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey with the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance in an October 2017 media release:


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.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance, alongside Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser announced the start of investigations as part of the launch of the government’s Future Transport 2056 strategy.

“This is a major step, with the need for a facility being recognised in the 10 to 20 year horizon, so early investigations can begin now”, Mrs Pavey said.

The new facility has the potential to link in with North Coast tourist hotspots and part of the process will look at how to integrate the proposed port with the wider area.

“The Cruise Industry is booming and is set to get bigger in coming years. A cruise terminal would give the region a share of that industry,” Mr Constance said.

Future Transport 2056 is Transport for NSW’s new strategy to meet our transport needs over the coming four decades and is currently seeking community feedback.

“The strategy has a strong focus on regional NSW, with an emphasis on customer needs, better connectivity and growing regions,” Mr Fraser said.

Future Transport 2056 is currently open for public feedback until December 3, 2017. To view the draft strategy, go to future.transport.nsw.gov.au. Alternately, the Future Transport team will be visiting Port Macquarie on October 30, 2017. Details on our website.

What this does not say is that Future Transport 2056 only mentions Yamba twice.

The first time in the dot point sentence; Maritime infrastructure development (e.g. Coffs Harbour/Yamba).

The second time in another dot point one liner; Coffs Harbour / Yamba cruise terminal/ infrastructure development.

In a section titled Our Customers the draft plan makes the generic one sentence statement; Improve public transport connections to arrival and departure points such as airports and cruise terminals.
The media release talks of a need for “investigation” and a plan to consult with the community in Grafton – not downriver at the  two communities most affected, Yamba or Iluka.

Despite the claims that Yamba is only a “potential” location, Roads, Freight & Maritime Minister and Nationals MP for Oxley Melinda Pavey blithely announced in the Clarence Valley Independent that the first cruise ship will moor in the Clarence River estuary in October next year:

The NSW Tourism plan outlines a commitment to a Cruise Development Plan over the next 10 years to develop the state’s tourist economy into the future,” Ms Pavey’s office wrote in an emailed response.

“The plan identifies the North Coast as being the most visited regional destination in NSW and the cruise industry offers further opportunities to strengthen that.

“There is considerable interest across industry and community in using the North Coast of NSW as a place for ships to berth.

“In fact, operators are already beginning to look at destinations such as Yamba for smaller cruise vessels. “

On this, Ms Pavey’s office said: “In October 2018, the Cruise Ship Caledonian Sky plans to stop off at Yamba as part of the Australian Coastal Odyssey.”

This will be the small cruise ship Caledonian Sky, a 26 year-old 90m long vessel which has seen better days, with a carrying capacity of 114 passengers.


What Minister Pavey was careful not to point out is that this same small cruise ship ran aground and smashed a wide area of pristine coral reef in Raja Ampat, Indonesian Papua, in March 2017, with the damage area extending 18,882 sq. metres. The majority of this area being heavily damaged and even reefs receiving medium damage only having a 50% chance of survival .

The situation was allegedly made even worse when a tugboat helped pull the vessel to deeper waters.

According to Rappler.com, 14 March 2017:

"JAKARTA, Indonesia (UPDATED) —The government of Indonesia had harsh words for the captain of cruise vessel MV Caledonian Sky, which was responsible for destroying a huge amount of coral reefs in Raja Ampat, Papua.

The damage by Caledonian Sky which was captained by Keith Michael Taylor was devastating and irreparable," said a statement from Djoko Hartoyo of the Information and Law Bureau of the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs, released on Tuesday, March 14.

"The destruction of Raja Ampat coral reefs which were developed by nature for hundreds of years was done in less than one day by Caledonian Sky and its Captain. It is simply impossible to restore that part of Raja Ampat. Fish that were normally seen in that particular were all gone."

The statement then went on to suggest that Taylor cared little about the destruction he inflicted.

Melinda Pavey’s desire to keep this incident under wraps comes as no surprise, given that this cruise ship would have to navigate a relatively narrow passage past the culturally significant coffee rock reef, Dirragun, which is now covered by Native Title.

Perhaps it is time for concerned Lower Clarence residents to start contacting the minister in order to express their views on her grand plans for the Port of Yamba at:

The Hon. Melinda Pavey MP
GPO Box 5341
SYDNEY NSW 2001
Phone:(02) 8574 7300
Fax: (02) 9339 5570
Email Link: Contact the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight

UPDATE

Taranaki Daily News, 15 February 2013, p.3:

Talking of visitors, we turn to the good folk of the cruise ship Caledonian Sky and their Wednesday visit to New Plymouth. A smartly dressed reporter at this paper had the gumption to approach a pair of these travellers to see what they thought of the city. It didn't quite go according to plan, with the English pair mistaking him for a hawker and rudely demanding identification. Come now, chaps, the reporter didn't ask you for identification. Mind you, it was obvious you were from a cruise ship. The expansive waistlines, white walk socks and boorish behaviour gave it away.

Papua New Guinea Post – Courier, 2 May 2014, p.5

TROBRIAND Islanders have threatened to "block or disrupt" future visits by tourists to protest the alleged dumping of rubbish by cruise ship.

Kudeuli and Wapaya villagers on the island of Kitava, which is part of the famed Trobriand Islands group, have alleged that the cruise ship MV Caledonian Sky dumped bags of rubbish on their beaches after a recent visit.

The villagers took pictures of empty bottles of wine, can drinks and plastic bags which they alleged were dropped off by five dinghies not far from their villages. The rubbish eventually washed up on their beaches while heavy items sank to the bottom of the ocean, the islanders claimed.

The Jakarta Post, 17 March 2017:

Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has said the captain of UK cruise vessel MV Caledonian Sky, which recently ran aground in Raja Ampat, West Papua, had previously made a similar mistake, in which his vessel entered shallow waters in Medan, North Sumatra, destroying sea biota in the area.
“We have data on the ship captain’s mistake in Medan,” said Luhut on Thursday. 

[my yellow highlighting]

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Is this what you want for communities living in the Clarence River Estuary, Mr. Mayor?


Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons has been quoted in the mainstream media as saying about NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government plans for the environmentally sensitive and flood-prone Clarence River Estuary and Port of Yamba:


I’m not quite sure if the mayor has quite thought where his enthusiasm might lead…………….


This is the 50,000 ton, 848 passenger capacity, small cruise ship Crystal Symphony belonging to Chrystal Cruises a US-based business which operates in Africa, Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mediterranean, South America, South Pacific, Asia, Arctic, Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, U.S. East Coast, U.S. West Coast, Alaska, Antarctic, India, and the Middle East.

Crystal Symphony currently docks in Sydney.

In 2016 Friends of the Earth (FOE) gave this ship a big fat F when it came to “sewerage treatment”, “air pollution” and overall environmental values.

Cruise ships such as this use their auxiliary diesel motors to supply lighting, air conditioning, heating etc. when they are moored and in the case of Chrystal Symphony that means diesel fumes allegedly the equivalent of 40 lorries a day travelling on Yamba or Iluka streets, according to people with some experience of UK cruise ports.

That’s going to make the on-river experience delightful for other visitors and local residents alike – out in the tinnie wetting a line as they drift through a cloud of diesel fumes spread by the breeze instead of breathing in the clean tang of saltwater.

In May 2016 it was reported that P&O were fined $15,000 by the NSW Environment Protection Authority when one of its cruise ships exceeded diesel emissions limits.

Silver Sea Cruise’s 28,258 ton, 382 passenger capacity, small cruise ship Silver Whisper which also docks in Sydney received exactly the same FOE report card F, along with its 5,218 ton, 116 passenger sister ship Silver Discoverer which docks at Cairns.

According to an undercover investigation by UK Channel Four Dispatches program aired in June 2017 the air quality on one P&O cruise ship deck was worse than world's most polluted cities.

As for waste – cruise ships can generate anything up to about 57 litres of hazardous chemical waste every day as well as producing sewage, graywater and solid waste associated with accommodation, meals and other on-board activities.

Just one accidental discharge of this waste in the tidal estuary would be hard to contain, could contaminate shorelines and possibly lead to localised fish kills .

Such an incident would quickly affect tourists’ perceptions of Yamba and Iluka as being ‘clean and green’.

That such cruise ship accidents happen, as well as deliberate waste dumping, is a fact of life.  


Mayor Simmons might also care to consider the environmental impacts of a cruise ship’s wash, given riverbank instability and erosion of estuary soft shorelines is already a problem for Clarence Valley Council.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The NSW Government’s Latest Attack On The Environment


How important is protection of the natural environment to the NSW Government? 
Many in the community believe that the Government gives it a very low priority.   There are even some who would assert that the NSW Coalition Government is conducting a war on the environment.
Concern about the Government’s environmental attitudes is the inevitable result of a series of its policies and legislation over recent years.  A few examples are its original very strong support for CSG and unconventional gas mining[1], its weakening of land-clearing and biodiversity protection laws[2], its strong support of coal mine expansions despite community opposition[3], and more recently, its plan to change the law to enable Lithgow’s Springvale Mine to stay open despite its threat to Sydney’s water catchment[4].
The latest major threat to the natural environment in NSW is the re-structure of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).  The National Parks and Wildlife Service, a part of the Office of Environment and Heritage,  manages more than 870 national parks and reserves covering over 7 million hectares of land  which is more than 9% of the state’s land area.
The restructure which is currently under way involves the amalgamation of administrative areas, and either the loss of experienced officers or their demotion to what will be little more than clerical roles with substantially reduced salaries.  In addition there are serious concerns about the effect of the changes on fire-fighting capacity as well as on pest management.
The changes resulting from this restructure will have serious effects throughout the state.
Grafton on the NSW North Coast, for years an administrative centre for NPWS, will lose that function. Despite Grafton’s location in the geographical centre of the new region, the administrative headquarters is being transferred to Coffs Harbour. 
Clarence Valley locals, having seen over recent years the steady transfer of state government jobs from Grafton to Coffs Harbour, are angry about this.  What makes this decision even more nonsensical to some Clarence residents is that the Clarence Valley LGA (Local Government Area) contains one of the biggest areas of national parks on the North Coast.  Clarence Valley Mayor, Cr Jim Simmons, pointed out recently that the Clarence had 2,262 sq km of national parks, 22% of the Council area, while Coffs Harbour, has only 42 sq km – a mere 4% of the Coffs council area.
While there is concern about job losses, the loss of expertise in the Service and the impact of this drawn-out and unfair process on the Service officers, there is another major concern – the long-term effect on our very important national parks estate.  Despite the claims by politicians, including the Nationals Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, this is a cost-cutting exercise at a time when the Government has boasted about a record budget surplus of $4.5 billion.  Any claim that it is not cost-cutting when the NPWS budget has been reduced by $121 million is obviously ludicrous.
However, it is probably more than just a cost-cutting exercise.  It is almost certain that it is at least partly driven by the ideology of the Coalition Government a core part of which, according to John Menadue[5], is commercializing and privatising public assets.
With reference to this, Menadue said: “A clear case at the moment is the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. It is being deliberately underfunded and forced to seek private funding and promoting commercial access to public parks.
“Yet this is happening when, with growing population density, we have a greatly increased need for public parks, gardens and open space. Furthermore, we were able to fund our public parks for decades in the past when we were much poorer than we are today. We need to protect our parks more than ever and we have more money to do so. Yet state governments are screwing national parks with funds to force commercialization and privatization.”
In the same post Menadue quoted figures from John Benson about the downgrading of the NPWS[6]. The number of rangers has been reduced by more than 90 over seven years. Only two of 14 regional managers have been appointed after a restructure and a similar threat faces critical staff at the area management level. Staff is so reduced in some regions that basic amenities cannot be maintained and a lack of field staff presence disappoints public visitor expectations.”
Despite all the spin from politicians and bureaucrats, it is obvious that the government intends to downgrade our national parks and is setting up the National Parks and Wildlife Service for failure. If the community, including that in our local area, does not protest vehemently enough, we will be stuck with this vandalism until this arrogant government is removed.
Hildegard
Northern Rivers

Footnotes
[1] In particular for Metgasco in the Northern Rivers – until the very strong community opposition forced a buy-back of the Metgasco licence.
[2] The 2016 Biodiversity Conservation Act and Local Land Services Amendment Act. There are strong concerns that this legislation will lead to huge biodiversity loss and allow broadscale land clearing.
[6] John Benson’s post on Menadue’s blog - https://johnmenadue.com/john-benson-biodiversity-is-threatened-in-new-south-wales/  provides an interesting view of the former world class quality of the NSW national parks estate and its current decline.

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GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT gmail.com.au for consideration. Longer posts will be considered on topical subjects.