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 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, 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
Phone:(02) 8574 7300
Fax: (02) 9339 5570
Email Link: Contact the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight


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]

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