Showing posts with label risk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label risk. Show all posts

Monday, 28 May 2018

Noble Caledonia Limited changes its mind about Port of Yamba-Clarence River?, 27 May 2017

Noble Caledonia Limited’s “Australian Coastal Odyssey” twenty-two day cruise from 9-31 October 2018 - flying from London to Cairns to Port Moresby, then sailing through the Torres Strait and down the east coast of Australia to berth in Melbourne before returning home on 31 October - is still being advertised online and it just got a lot cheaper.

In an apparent effort to fill cabins aboard the vessel MV Caledonian Sky, the UK-based cruise line is now offering across-the-board discounts of £1,000 per two-person cabin.

There has also been a change in the ship’s itinerary for Day 16 - 24 October this year.

All mention of entry into Port of Yamba-Clarence River was removed from the cruise line's website sometime between 21 and 27 May and, Trial Bay, South West Rocks inserted instead for both its October 2018 “Australian Coastal Odyssey” and October 2019 “Australian Coastal Discovery” east coast cruises.
Caledonian Sky has already booked port berths/moorings in Queensland and Victoria as well as for two of the six official ports along the NSW leg of the 2018 cruise – Port of Newcastle (7am 25 October) and Port of Eden (7am 27 October). There is no published booking for Port of Yamba which requires piloted entry for sea-going ships.

Which has set Lower Clarence residents to wondering about the reasons for this welcome change of plan.

Some think it may be a public relations feint by Noble Caledonia to dampen expression of local concerns and it may yet decide to slip into the Clarence River estuary on or about 24 October this year.

Others point to the level of risk always associated with bringing ships like the 5-deck high, 91 metre long, est. 4,200 gross tonne Caledonian Sky across the entrance bar while avoiding collision with the culturally important Native Title reef “Dirrangun” and, the possibility that the cruise line’s insurance company might not be impressed if that risk were to be realised and it was faced with a second reef maritime incident in less than nineteen months involving the same ship.

Given the protracted negotiations between Noble Caledonia, its insurer and the Indonesian Government over a reported £350 million ‘fine’ incurred when the Caledonian Sky damaged over 18,000 sq. metres of pristine coral reef in the Raja Ampat island chain in March 2017, it is understandable that Noble Caledonia Limited may have reassessed the original “Australian Coastal Odyssey” itinerary and decided it preferred a less problematic short-stay mooring for Day 16.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

It is getting harder and harder to believe Facebook Inc's denials of intentional harm

The fact that Facebook Inc. re-named the street in which it is headquartered "1 Hacker Way" should have been a clue to this social media giant's business ethos but it obviously didn't register with national governments and everyday Internet users. 

By the time All tech reported this on 11 November 2016 we were all a little more informed, but Facebook was still trying to pull the wool over our eyes:

Mark Zuckerberg says the notion that fake news influenced the U.S. presidential election is "a pretty crazy idea."

The Facebook CEO is finding himself in a unique position in this election cycle. Many news organizations have come under fire for their coverage of the campaign. Now Facebook is getting it too, as a modern media company that does not vet fake news from its News Feed and that, critics argue, allows users to stay in information bubbles that reinforce existing prejudices.

Zuckerberg took both these criticisms head-on yesterday, at a conference called Techonomy. (You can find the full interview on his Facebook feed.)

He says hoaxes existed before his platform was created. They aren't new, and people who say misinformation is why Donald Trump won simply do not get it. "There's a profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason why someone could have voted the way that they did is because they saw some fake news," Zuckerberg says.

He also says his company has studied fake news and found it's a "very small volume" of the content on Facebook. He did not specify if that content is more or less viral or impactful than other information.

Denials of a dangerously lax attitude to risk in Facebook Inc.'s business model continued to be made as more information surfaced......

BuzzFeed, 30 March 2018

The Age, 31 March 2018:

In a 2016 employee memo that was leaked this week, a Facebook executive defended the company's questionable data mining practices and championed the growth of social media at any cost - apparently even death.

Users in the US sue Facebook for not protecting personal data of the 50 million social network account owners whose data ended up at the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

"Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies," company vice president Andrew Bosworth wrote in the memo, according to BuzzFeed News, which published it Thursday. "Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools. And still we connect people. The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good."….

Bosworth, who oversaw Facebook's advertising and business platform at the time and is now in charge of the company's virtual reality department, has acknowledged writing the message but said he intended only to start a debate. "I didn't agree with it even when I wrote it," he wrote on Twitter after BuzzFeed published its report.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who is already facing a public relations crisis over accusations that the company mishandled millions of users' private data, disavowed the memo.

"Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things," Zuckerberg said in a statement, using Bosworth's nickname. "This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We've never believed the ends justify the means."…….

The 418-word memo is framed around Zuckerberg's often-stated mission to connect the entire world through Facebook, which Bosworth cites as the company's ultimate and unchangeable goal - whether those connections let users fall in love, attack each other or, in the memo's most extreme example, coordinate a terrorist attack.

"That's why all the work we do in growth is justified," Bosworth wrote. "All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends. All of the work we do to bring more communication in. The work we will likely have to do in China some day. All of it."

BuzzFeed noted that the memo was written almost immediately after a man was shot to death while streaming live video of himself with Facebook Live, and a few days before a Palestinian teenager was accused of killing an Israeli girl after praising terrorists on Facebook.

These deaths were a prelude to a string of other gruesome and violent incidents that appeared in videos and live streams on the social network. A man posted a Facebook video of himself killing someone last April. A month later, a man soaked himself in kerosene, lit himself on fire and used Facebook Live to stream video of his self-immolation.

Then we saw Zuckerberg donning a suit as he did the rounds in Washington DC. Appearing before a Joint Senate Committees on the Judiciary & Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s  Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data hearing and a House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee's Facebook: Transparency and Use of Consumer Data hearing.

There was an expectation that during these hearings Zuckerberg would reveal the full extent of Facebook's data collection and retention, as well as explain why he allowed third party apps to collect data without the knowledge and/or fully informed consent of up to est, 2 billion Facebook users.

His disingenuous witness statement published ahead of his appearances contains this gem:

Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all the good that connecting people can bring.....
But it’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy. We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here. So now we have to go through every part of our relationship with people and make sure we’re taking a broad enough view of our responsibility.

However, if one reads through the full witness statement it is clear that Facebook Inc. is not responding out of a genuine realisation of its ethical failures or wrongdoing, but is essentially responding to the sharp fall in its stock value which began last month.

It clearly intends to still allow third party apps access to Facebook user accounts and there is no guarantee that the amount of personal data that can be extracted by these apps will be limited to a digital version of 'name, rank and serial number' or that Facebook users will have given fully-informed consent for this data extraction.

This reading of Facebook Inc.'s intentions was reinforced by Mark Zuckerberg testimony before both the Senate and House committees.

He came obviously rehearsed by lawyers and tightly scripted......

Time Magazine, Facebook aide closing notes during hearing recess,11 April 2018
Brief summary of Mark Zuckerber notes here.

Although in his spoken testimony Zuckerberg commenced with yet another apology, in my opinion he frequently dissembled, mislead, misdirected, contradicted a number of his own and Facebook management's public previous statements, lied by omission and sometimes almost defiantly told what appeared to be bald-faced lies.

NOTEReaders can form their own opinion of Zuckerberg's testimony courtesy of The Washington Post at

However Facebook Inc. is not just relying on its founder and CEO's recent testimony to ward of further regulation of its businss practices.

Since 2011 Facebook Inc. has had a registered Political Action Commttee (PAC) which has donated to the 2012, 2014, and 2016 US election campaigns. 

As well as in-house and paid lobbyists who spent in total US$11.5 million in 2017 alone fighting against further Internet regulations including any proposed strengthening of privacy protections. Add that to the company's US$8.6M lobbying spend in 2016, $9.8M in 2015, $9.3M in 2014, $6.4M in 2013, $3.8M in 2012, $1.3M in 2011, $351,390 in 2010 and $207,878 in 2009 and one can see that Facebook Inc. is increasingly determined to have the ear of US lawmakers.

Although how successful the social media giant's lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill will be in 2018, it is clear that in has been partially successful in protecting the market value of its shares.

To date this year Facebook Inc.'s ordinary share price has gone from a closing high of US$193.09 (01.02.18) to a low of $152.22 (27.03.18) in the wake of revelations about the company's business practices and, then gradually climbed over the course of 17 days by $12.3 to close at $164.52 (13.03.18), according to Yahoo! Finance.

As for the number of active Facebook users - only time will tell if current figures hold over time. With trust in Facebook Inc. at a new low it will not be surprising to find the number of accounts showing daily activity falling over time as users become more wary of this platform.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The thirty-eight minutes in which Hawaii thought Trump had finally pushed North Korea too far

The New Yorker, 13 January 2018:

Residents of Hawaii received this warning on their smartphone screens 
Saturday morning from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
Photograph Caleb Jones / AP

A little after 8 a.m. today, Hawaii standard time, an alert was sent to cell phones in Hawaii: “ballistic missile threat inbound to hawaii. seek immediate shelter. this is not a drill.” The message was also broadcast on local television and radio.

Nearly forty minutes passed before a second message went out: “There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.” Later, the governor of Hawaii, David Ige, told CNN, “It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the changeover of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button.”……

Our apartment looks out over the international airport and Pearl Harbor. Whenever there’s fighter-jet activity, it goes right by our lanai. There’s been a lot of exercises recently. The local news has been reporting why so many fighter jets are running around, and the stories described the name of the exercises: Sunset Aloha. Apparently, they’re military drills. What it meant, for us, is F-22s and F-35s have been screaming through the skies over the past two weeks.

“We were sitting out on the lanai when the announcement came over the building speaker that there was an inbound ballistic missile to Hawaii. And that it wasn’t a drill. They repeated that. I got a text from a friend who’s an airline pilot who runs a Honolulu route and happened to be in town saying, ‘Did you guys see this?’ My wife called a friend of hers on the Big Island to see whether it was something that was just Honolulu, just Oahu, or the entire state. She was able to get through, and her friend said ‘Yes, it’s for the entire state.’

“At that point, we secured all the windows and all the doors. We started filling the tubs and every container we could with water. And texting family and friends. There’s been an increasing amount of information in Hawaii about what to do in case of a ballistic missile, over the last few months, clearly tied to tensions with North Korea. Everybody in Hawaii is very aware that after Guam we’re the next-closest target. We’re the only part of the U.S. that’s been a target of a military attack by a foreign power in the past century. And, of course, coming from New York, being the target of a non-military attack, that resonated with us in the worst possible way. Hawaii has also started doing monthly air-raid drills.

“It took me maybe a minute to process that this was actually happening. It was an ‘Oh my god, but I need to execute, I need to get things done’ kind of feeling. ‘Is this real? Can this really happen? They’re gonna shoot it down, right? What happens if our building collapses and we can’t get to our little girl?’

“After about five minutes, we were visibly upset. My wife was crying, and George, our daughter, wanted to know why. We asked her to come over for a family hug. We explained that we’d heard very bad news that something very, very bad was happening and it had us really, really upset. I don’t think she really understands nuclear Armageddon or ballistic missiles, but she certainly understands that Mommy and Daddy are really upset.

“We continued to fill every container we could find with water for maybe another fifteen or twenty minutes. We tried calling people. My wife tried her father in Chicago three times, got a busy signal. I texted my mother and my twenty-one-year-old daughter. We texted the rest of my wife’s family to say there’s a ballistic missile coming towards Hawaii and it’s not a drill.

“I’m not a religious person. There are no prayers to God in our household.

“At eight twenty-nine, we got a text back from my wife’s sister-in-law saying it was a hoax. Half an hour had passed, roughly. Then I checked and started seeing reports on Twitter from Tulsi Gabbard and other reps, from the governor, saying this was a false alarm. Then we got an alert over the building loudspeaker also saying it was a false alarm. Then we got the cell-phone alert. At that point, I was able to get through to my mother on the phone. She reported that what she saw on the news in the mainland was nothing until finally they said, ‘Oh, there’s a false alarm of a missile coming into Hawaii.’ Meanwhile, everyone over here is really upset and thinks they’re all going to die. Our friend the pilot was in a hotel saying the lobby was full of crying children.

“We began to relax a little and start to deal with the aftereffects of a severe adrenaline rush. I’m still shaking, though. My wife is still having waves of goose bumps and chills periodically….. 

From Twitter Moments, 14 January 2018:

Thursday, 11 January 2018

NSW Auditor-General not impressed by government agencies cyber security risk management

“Specific financial reporting, controls and service delivery comments are included in the individual 2017 cluster financial audit reports tabled in Parliament from October to December 2017.” [NSW Auditor-General, Report on Internal Controls and Governance 2017, December 2017]

On 20 December 2017 the NSW Auditor-General released the Report on Internal Controls and Governance 2017.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 28 December 2017:

Two-thirds of NSW government agencies are failing to properly safeguard their data, increasing the risk of improper access to confidential information about members of the public and identity fraud by cyber criminals.

The finding has emerged from an audit of dozens of government agencies, including those holding highly sensitive personal information collected from millions of citizens, such as NSW Health, the department of education, NSW Police Force, Roads and Maritime Services and the justice department.

While the report by auditor-general Margaret Crawford does not name the agencies failing to properly manage privileged access to their systems, it highlights the potential consequences.

"Personal information collected by public sector agencies about members of the public is of high value to cyber criminals, as it can be used to create false identities to commit other crimes," she says in the report.

"Despite these risks, we found that one agency had 37 privileged user accounts, including 33 that were dormant. The agency had no formal process to create, modify or deactivate privileged users."

Overall, Ms Crawford's report found 68 per cent of NSW government agencies "do not adequately manage privileged access to their systems".

In addition, she said, the audit determined that 61 per cent of agencies "do not regularly monitor the account activity of privileged users".

"This places those agencies at greater risk of not detecting compromised systems, data breaches and misuse," the report said.

The audit found 31 per cent of agencies "do not limit or restrict privileged access to appropriate personnel". Of those, just one-third monitor the account activity of privileged users.

It found that almost one-third of agencies breach their own security policies on user access.

The report warns that if agencies fail to implement proper controls "they may also breach NSW laws and policies and the international standards that they reference".

Read the full article here.

List of NSW Government Agencies Examined by NSW Auditor-General
Department of Education
Family and Community Services
Department of Family and Community Services
New South Wales Land and Housing Corporation
Finance, Services and Innovation
Department of Finance, Services and Innovation * Specifically identified in report
Place Management NSW
Property NSW
Service NSW
NSW Health
Department of Industry
Destination NSW
Forestry Corporation of New South Wales
Office of Sport
TAFE Commission
Water NSW
Department of Justice
Fire and Rescue NSW
Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales
NSW Police Force
Office of the NSW Rural Fire Service
Planning and Environment
Department of Planning and Environment
Essential Energy
Hunter Water Corporation
Office of Environment and Heritage
Office of Local Government
Sydney Water Corporation
Premier and Cabinet
Department of Premier and Cabinet
NSW Trains
Rail Corporation New South Wales
Roads and Maritime Services
Sydney Trains
Transport for NSW
WCX M4 PTY Limited
WCX M5 PTY Limited
Crown Finance Entity
Insurance and Care NSW
Lifetime Care and Support Authority
NSW Treasury Corporation
NSW Self Insurance Corporation

Some deficiencies were common across agencies

The most common internal control deficiencies were poor or absent IT controls related to:

user access management
password management
privileged access management
user acceptance testing.

The most common governance deficiencies related to:

management of cyber security risks
capital project governance
management of shared service arrangements
conflicts-of-interest management
gifts-and-benefits management
risk management maturity
ethical behaviour policies and statements.

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….., 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.


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.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Turnbull Government employment services program a mess

Meanwhile in Australian Minister for Employment and Liberal Senator for Western Australia  Michaelia Cash’s ministerial portfolio…..

The Australian, 31 October 2017:

The Coalition’s flagship $7.3 billion employment services program has been branded a “hopeless mess” with fewer than 40 per cent of unemployed clients finding long-term work, more than a third of job agencies performing so badly they should be disqualified and warnings that fraud may go undetected.

The Australian has uncovered evidence of job agencies inducing or harassing former clients for pay slips from their new employers to claim taxpayer ­bonuses worth thousands of dollars each.

Agencies are handed incentive payments four weeks after a ­client starts a job and again at three months and cumulatively can get up to $13,750 at six months if the client stays in the job.

Fewer than 40 per cent of ­clients remain employed after six months and almost half of the $1.7bn the department spends on the program each year goes on administration.

An analysis by The Australian of the five-year program ­reveals 569 employment services sites out of 1648 around the nation have failed a measure set by the ­Department of Employment that requires their business be reduced or taken away entirely, but only 12 companies have had their share reduced.

The problem is particularly ­severe in Western Australia, the home state of Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, where just 14 per cent of the 107 employment services sites met the grade for service standards. Only two sites were operating above the national average but the department has “deferred” any shake-up of the private companies “to give providers an opportunity to ­improve their performance”.

The bonuses under the re­designed “jobactive” program launched by the Coalition are big business and, in many cases, ­securing them is the only revenue keeping the organisations afloat.

The Australian understands there are active moves within the Labor Party to reconsider the ­entire employment services model, and while opposition ­employment services spokesman Ed Husic was tight-lipped on the issue in August, he admonished the system in a speech to service providers.

“We spend roughly $9bn on government jobs programs, the second largest area of procurement outside of defence,” he said.

“We have 730,000 people out of work … 40,000 employment services consultants and only 20 per cent of the people helped by the government’s jobs programs find work for more than 26 weeks.”

The Salvation Army lost more than $1 million a month in the first 18 months of the scheme launched in July 2015 because it was not qualifying for the bonus payments it needed to.

David Thompson, the chief executive of Jobs Australia, the peak organisation for non-profit providers, said the system was a “hopeless mess”, not “hugely ­effective” and had been run to the advantage of the largest companies.

“On average, the staff who work at these places have a high-school-level education and a caseload of 150 jobseekers,” he said. “That’s average. Some of them have 300 people they have to see in a week. They do not have a ­relationship with anyone. It’s cheap.”….

The department declined to release the names of the companies in the “low-impact breaches” because it said it was “concerned that publishing such information may cause commercial harm to the relevant providers”.

Of the 65 providers contracted to deliver employment support services on behalf of the federal government, the Department of Employment has classified more than 43 per cent of having a risk rating of “extreme or high”.

Of this number, more than half were rated extreme or high due to concerns about their ongoing financial viability, more than one-third due to overall service standards, 28 per cent were deemed compliance risks and ­almost 4 per cent were categorised as being at risk of fraud.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

So you think it is a good idea, Gladys, allowing a small cruise ship into a relatively shallow Port of Yamba?

The Clarence River Estuary is part of the largest combined river-ocean commercial fishery on the Australian east-coast.

It also contains the Port of Yamba at its mouth.

Every vessel entering the port has to navigate past a coffee rock reef protected by Native Title which curves around the entrance waters.

The navigation channels these vessels sail range in depth from 3m to 5.5m on a good day.

This port can safely take vessels with an overall length of no more than 120m, a maximum beam of 20m and a draft limit of 5m or less.

Even small recreation boats straying a few feet out of the main navigational channel can sometimes get stuck in shifting mud banks. While the Yamba-Iluka ferry has been known to find itself momentarily stuck in sand within feet of the wharf in Yamba Bay.

This is the port that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has given the nod to as a cruise ship destination if the October 2017 announcement by two of her ministers is any indication. Minister Pavey’s office afterwards stating that the first small cruise ship is to arrive in October 2018.

That ship has been identified as the Caledonian Sky, a 26 year-old, 90.6m long vessel with 4200 gross tonnage, a beam width of 15.2m, maximum draft of 4m and a carrying capacity of 114 passengers.

This first cruise ship visit has been approved ahead of any investigation of estuary/port conditions and capacity, community consultation or practical preparation.

But what could possibly go wrong? It’s a small cruise ship, right? It will get in and out of the port OK, won’t it?

Well let us look at other small cruise ships which were not making their very first visit to the area in which they were sailing……..

A limited selection of typical maritime incidents involving small cruise ships 

8 July 2008 - Spirit of Glacier Bay grounded just after 7am (local time) today near Glacier Bay in Alaska. The ship had 51 people on-board. No injuries were reported. Unclear whether the grounding was caused by human error or a mechanical or electronic malfunction.

9 September 2009The Balmoral anchored off Portree, Skye with severe gales preventing it from berthing in the harbour. The liner departed Invergordon on 7 September with a reported 18 cases of the highly infectious novovirus among its 1,280 passengers and 516 crew.

23 May 2010 - Deutschland moored at the quay in Eidfjord in Norway when a fire broke out in the engine room. The 608 passengers were evacuated safely and 205 crew stayed on-board to help battle the fire. Damage was contained to an isolated area and limited with the help of fire doors.

29 August 2010 - M/V Clipper Adventurer  ran aground Friday when it hit a rock. It was carrying 110 passengers on a cruise through the Northwest Passage when the mishap happened. No injuries have been reported among the passengers and 69 crew members on board. In 2017 a Canadian court ordered the owners to pay pollution related costs and fines arising from the incident finding the Coast Guard properly warned the Clipper Adventurer's crew of the rock shelf through a notice to shipping, which was not on board the ship. The court wrote "as it was, this nonchalant attitude put the lives of close to 200 souls at risk." A total of 13 tanks aboard were breached during the grounding. Some of those tanks held fuel, freshwater and sludge.

15 September 2011 - MS Nordlys was sailing from Bergen, Norway to the town of Kirkenes when fire broke out in the engine room of the cruise ship with 207 passengers on-board.  Passengers were safely evacuated from the ship at the port of Alesund, Norway. Two crew members were killed and nine others were taken to the hospital for treatment. The investigation concludes that the fire probably started when a diesel leakage was ignited coming into contact with an un-insulated indicator valve on starboard main engine. The most probable cause of the diesel leakage was fatigue fracture in the feed pipes for a fuel injection pump due to the pump being loose. AIBN is of the opinion that insufficient job specification in the shipping company’s maintenance system had contributed to the fuel injection pump not being sufficiently fastened and to the indicator valve not being sufficiently insulated.
3 June 2012Independence allegedly discharge of soapy water into the harbour at Bar Harbor from the cruise ship as it was tied up to the town pier. The water was effluent from clothes washing machines on the ship; the overboard discharge valves to the forward washing machines had been left open. 

21 May 2013 - MS Serenissima, which had 112 people on board, became stuck in sand and gravel at about 18.30 on Monday 20 May. It was refloated at about 01:10 after an earlier attempt failed due to high winds.

11 May 2015 - MV Hamburg grounded on charted rocks near the New Rocks buoy in the Sound of Mull, Scotland with 461 persons on board. There were no injuries but the accident caused considerable raking damage to the hull and rendered the port propeller, shaft and rudder unserviceable. Ship’s captain plead guilty to two charges.
12 August 2015State of Alaska issued cruise ship operators 18 notices of violation involving 48 instances of excessive air emissions since 2010. Each violation of law carries a fine of approximately $37,500. Between 2009 and 2013 Alaska reportedly issued 174 Notices of Violation for cruise ships discharging in violation of Alaska Water Quality Standards.
23  December 2015 - Star Pride while passing through UNESCO World Heritage Site Coiba National Park on 22 December hit some slightly submerged rocks while attempting to navigate through a shallow channel. The ship underwent repairs in this delicate ecosystem.

31 March 2016 - Adventure Hornblower was attempting to dock at the Navy Pier in downtown San Diego, California. As the vessel made its approach to the pier, its bow unexpectedly swung to starboard and allided with the pier’s passenger embarkation dock. The ship then accelerated forward until it struck the seawall at the foot of the pier. Eight passengers sustained minor injuries in the accident. The allision caused nearly $1.06 million in damage to the vessel, pier, and seawall.

14 October 2016Pacific Princess struck a breakwater at Villefranche-sur-Mer (port to Nice, France) at 6am. The accident occurred in rough seas, with strong winds of over 50 mph (80 kph), causing the ship’s portside hull to hit rocks at the harbor’s entrance. Just as the vessel passed the harbor’s opening in the breakwater, a sudden gust of wind hit and skidded it into the breakwater’s wall. 

2 September 2016 - SeaDream I with 105 passengers and 61 crew caught fire off Naples, Italy. The vessel was making a voyage between Amalfi and Palinuro in Tyrrhenian sea, but one of the generators suffered failure and started smoking. The thick smoke and flames engulfed the whole engine compartment, causing damages to the engineering. Local authorities dispatched tug at the scene of the accident, which towed the cruise ship to Naples

19 December 2016 -  Spirit of Baltimore cruise ship captain fell asleep while navigating the ship on 28 August. Unattended, the boat with approx. 400 passengers veered off course and crashed into two moored recreational boats and floating pier at Henderson’s Wharf Marina in Fells Point, Maryland.

12 March 2017 - MV Caledonian Sky hit coral reefs at Crossover Reef, inflicting significant damage to one of the world's most biodiverse reefs on 4 March. It has been voted among the best diving spots in the world According to NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey this cruise ship will be mooring in Yamba in October 2018. This ship is a repeat offender having previously damaged coral off Medan in Sumartra.

5 April 2017 - L'Austral grounded on 9 January 2017 at Snares Island with hull breached and one ballast tank damaged. It then grounded a second time in Milford Sound on 9 February.

By now, Premier Berejiklian, you may be entertaining the idea that lining up the small regional port and town of Yamba for cruise ship visits may not be the best idea your government has floated.

But that's not what this port expansion push is really all about, is it Gladys?

No, your government has decided that all three small regional ports ideally should become multipurpose ports which include commercial shipping, cruise shipping and defence facilities as well as extensive channel & mooring area dredging to at least an 8m minimum with channel access suitable for ships 300m long - which is as long as a Panamax super freighter.

Sadly, in the future there won't be a viable, biodiverse, seafood rich, clean and green Clarence River Estuary if the Berejiklian Coalition Government has its way.


North Coast Voices, 15 March 2017, Is the NSW Dept. of Industry seeking to significantly expand the Port of Yamba?