Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today released the report of the Independent Review of the future use of the naval docks at Garden Island in Sydney by visiting cruise ships.
Minister Smith announced the Review in June 2011.
The review was led by Dr Allan Hawke. The Minister received Dr Hawke’s report in February.
The Independent Review assessed whether there is scope to enhance cruise ship access to Garden Island without adversely impacting on its priority national security role of supporting Navy maritime operations.
The Review focused on the opportunities for greater civil-military cooperation in the use of finite berthing resources for very large vessels in Sydney Harbour.
The Review also assessed whether there is scope for a more flexible approach that balances Navy’s needs with cruise industry requirements to secure advanced berth bookings for cruise ships visiting Sydney Harbour.
The Review found that current and future Navy capability requirements of Garden Island are essentially incompatible with cruise ship access over the long-term, except on the existing basis, where a limited number of requests for berth bookings is considered by Navy based on extended notice and limited visits per year.
In February, Queen Mary 2, the biggest cruise liner to visit Australia, docked at Garden Island with Navy’s approval.
It also found that provision of guaranteed shared access to existing berths at Garden Island cannot be achieved without adversely impacting on naval operations.
The Review identified one possible option to meet the cruise industry’s short-medium term requirement, involving the addition of a ‘dolphin’ berth (mooring posts) at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, combined with a maximum one day stay alongside, and transfer of vessels requiring a two day turnaround to the existing Athol Bay Buoy. This could be enhanced further by construction of a more permanent dolphin berth close to the shoreline in Athol Bay.
The Review indentified five longer term options for enhanced cruise ship access to Garden Island, all of which would involve significant investment:
- disperse cruise ship support between the current Overseas Passenger Terminal, Athol Bay and Port Botany;
- lease Fleet Base Berth 1-5 to the Sydney Ports Corporation for cruise ship use and develop a replacement wharf for Navy on the eastern side of Garden Island;
- lease Fleet Base Berth 1-5 to the cruise ship industry and develop berths at Glebe Island for Navy;
- share Fleet Base Berths 2-3 with the cruise industry with Glebe Island and White Bay berths being made available to Navy; and
- transfer Fleet Base Berths 1-5 to the Sydney Ports Corporation with Navy to transfer to new facilities outside of Sydney.
The Review recommended that:
- the Review’s findings and recommendations be considered in the light of the Australian Defence Force Posture Review outcomes;
- the Review’s findings and recommendations be considered in the light of the NSW Government Transport Infrastructure and Tourism reviews, expected in May 2012;
- inter-Governmental consultation should take place to ensure any berthing access at Garden Island does not financially disadvantage the Commonwealth;
- should the Australian Government determine that the national interest includes offering use of part of Garden Island to assist the cruise industry’s projected berthing requirements:
> enhanced access should be contingent on agreement of legal instruments to effect transfer of assets and liabilities;-
> current procedures (described above) whereby the cruise industry provides advanced notice requests for berth access at Fleet Base East/Garden Island should be refined and formalised;
> the Minister for Defence (through the Chief of Navy) should have the discretion to suspend all non-Defence access to Garden Island when there is an urgent national requirement or significant security or public safety concern;
> proceeds arising from leasing arrangements should be hypothecated to Defence for offsetting Navy infrastructure enhancements and operating costs;
> consultation should occur between Defence, the NSW Government, cruise industry representatives and the NSW Department of Roads and Maritime Services to address traffic impacts of cruise activity on the site;
> consultation would also be required on security and emergency management issues; and
> further community consultation should be conducted to understand the impact on local residents and to identify mitigation strategies preserving amenity and heritage values for both local residents and the general public.
The Review noted that Defence’s long-term national security task should not be surrendered to the seasonal commercial requirements of the cruise ship industry.
In reaching its conclusions, the review took into account:
- the outcomes from the New South Wales Government-sponsored Passenger Cruise Terminal Steering Committee Part B report on infrastructure requirements and locations for a Cruise Passenger Terminal east of Sydney Harbour Bridge;
- current and future Navy requirements for facilities at Garden Island to meet current and future operational, repair and maintenance needs, including for the two Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock ships and three Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers;
- the suitability of existing Garden Island facilities to support more regular cruise ship visits during peak periods and with the degree of advanced notice sought by the industry;
- the economic benefits of enhanced cruise ship access to Sydney Harbour, and the economic contribution of the ongoing Navy presence in Sydney;
- options for alternative berthing, maintenance and support arrangements for naval vessels both within Sydney and other ports; and
- the costs, benefits and impact of the cruise industry investing in purpose built facilities at Garden Island to enable enhanced use of the island by cruise ships.
The report of the Garden Island Review will be considered by Government in the context of the final report of the Force Posture Review. Both the Garden Island Review and the Force Posture Review report will feed into the Defence White Paper 2014.
The Force Posture Review is addressing the range of present and emerging global, regional and national strategic and security factors which require careful consideration for the future. It is being undertaken by the Department of Defence and overseen by an expert panel comprising two of Australia’s leading national security experts, Dr Allan Hawke and Mr Ric Smith, both former Secretaries of the Department of Defence.
In January, the Minister released the interim report of the Force Posture Review. The final report is due at the end of this month.
The Garden Island review report can be found at: http://www.defence.gov.au/oscdf/CruiseShipAccessReview/default.htm
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Department: (02) 6127 1999