Showing posts with label Clarence River. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clarence River. Show all posts

Friday, 8 December 2017

Is the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government moving against Clarence River communities?



According to the state-owned corporation Port Authority of New South Wales, during the 2017-18 cruise season which commenced in October, international cruise ships will be visiting Sydney, Newcastle, Port Kembla and Eden.

On its website the Authority proudly announced an expectation of a bumper season – as other parts of the world buckle under the weight of the cruise ship industry’s agenda and start to say ‘no more’.

When cautionary tales like this are appearing…..

Traveller.com.au, 20 November 2017:

Venice is planning to divert massive cruise liners. Barcelona has cracked down on apartment rentals.

Both are at the forefront of efforts to get a grip on "overtourism", a phenomenon that is disrupting communities, imperiling cherished buildings and harming the experience of travellers and local residents alike……

The backlash has even given rise to slogans such as "Tourists go home" and "Tourists are terrorists".

"This is a wake-up call," Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the United Nations' World Tourism Organisation, told tourism ministers and industry executives last week at the World Travel Market in London.

Meanwhile Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (USA) and Carnival Corporation (USA) – the biggest cruise lines operating in Australian waters – are moving some of their passenger ships off the NSW list of scheduled stops and berthing then in Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore and China.

The cruise ship industry goes where its rapacious business model can be utilised most effectively and Australia has been the flavour of the month for a few seasons now, even if Sydney is losing its sheen.

Before this latest Martin Place brain snap Port of Yamba was the only open port in New South Wales that had not been targeted by cruise lines as a destination port. Perhaps in part because they realise that a barrier estuary – where the barrier is the remains of a once living indigenous woman turned to stone - and multiple deck cruise ships are as compatible as oil and water.

Now the NSW Berejiklian Government and, particularly the NSW National Party, want to include this small regional estuarine port in grand plans for increasing cruise ship traffic in the state. Even though, according to Cruise Lines International Association Australasia, by 2016 New South Wales had captured around 58 per cent of the total Australian cruise market annual dollar spend - that's not enough for those greedy politicians down south.

The government tells us these passenger ships will only be “smaller cruise vessels” but it is also considering building an international cruise terminal in the Clarence River estuary.

Now if one goes online and looks at the cruise ships currently operating on the Australian east coast what is immediately obvious is the dearth of "smaller" ocean-going passenger vessels which might enter the Clarence River safely.

There aren’t enough of them to bring the economic benefit NSW Minister for Maritime, Roads and Freight and MP for Oxley Melinda Pavey implies would flow into the Lower Clarence River along with these ships.

Currently the NSW Dept. of Transport is sending a React Future Transport 2058 van all over the state selling the Draft Future Transport Strategy 2058 and asking people to tell those manning this van what they would like to see happen with regard to local transport needs.

The van came to Grafton in the hinterland of the Clarence Valley on 27 November 2017 wanting to hear opinions on trains, buses, roads, cycleways and air travel, but carefully avoided mention of sea transport, cruise ships or a cruise terminal unless a local specifically asked.

This van is never coming to the Clarence Coast - residents will never see it in Maclean, Iluka or Yamba. Their opinions are being deliberately limited in this faux consultation.

So what is going on here?

Perhaps the answer can be found in the idea being canvassed by the Berejiklian Government that all three NSW designated regional ports should ideally be multi-purpose ports which include cargo shipping, cruise ships and naval facilities.

The state government's push to establish the cruise ship industry in the Clarence River estuary looks suspiciously like the first move to bring this about, as inevitably demands will come from the international cruise lines for significant dredging to occur from the river entrance and along main the navigation channel to ship berths.

If such dredging occurs then it is possible the Australian Navy will be encouraged to revisit its strategy for use of smaller coastal ports and, a Sydney-centric NSW Government will begin to insist more freight passes through the port despite the known strong opposition of the wider Clarence Valley community to an industrialised Clarence River estuary.

Now might be the time for Ms. Pavey to consider the possibility that, Oxley being a regional electorate bordering the Clarence electorate, may induce many increasingly concerned people in the Lower Clarence to pack a hamper, get in their car and drive down to Oxley for the day and campaign for whomever of her political rivals takes their fancy during the next state election.

At the very least many are likely to write to local papers in her electorate during the 2019 state election campaign informing them of her actions in Clarence.

These letters could start off by mentioning those troublesome smokestacks at WestConnex, her support of the foreign multinational miner Adani’s plans for a mega coal mine which will inevitably pollute the Great Barrier Reef if it goes ahead,  her failure to support road workers who built a section of the new Pacific Highway for her on zero pay for months (pay they are never likely to see), removing historic Windsor Bridge, the reaction of others to her bizarre transport strategy - before moving on to the mess she is about to make of the Clarence River estuary.

After all the Clarence Valley has a habit of standing up for the aesthetic, environmental, cultural, social and economic values that underpin community in this valley and the wider Northern Rivers region.

Just ask Metgasco, Australian Infrastructure Development or Malcolm Turnbull.

NOTE

The name of the culturally significant reef just outside the mouth of the Clarence River is variously spelt Dirragun and Dirrangun in various books and documents, so both spellings are used interchangeably in North Coast Voices 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, 29 November 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Along the way.......

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BACKGROUND

THE OFFICER RECOMMENDATION

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

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

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

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

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

Clarence Valley Council:

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

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

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

* This motion became the adopted Council resolution

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

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

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

Monday, 27 November 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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