Redevelopment plans for the Garden Island naval base in Sydney could provide cruise ships with a new docking facility that will allow for increased tourist traffic, unlocking billions in potential income for the harbour city.
A state government plan to allow cruise ships to share Garden Island with the Navy is currently under consideration. Revealed by The Daily Telegraph, a report by former Liberal Leader and Navy Reserve Captain Peter Collins proposes that international cruise ships be allowed to share the naval facilities as a solution to the current shortage of space in Sydney Harbour.
At present, some of the larger cruise liners are removing Sydney from their destination lists because the International Passenger Terminal is unable to accommodate them. In addition, mega-cruise liners cannot fit under the Harbour Bridge to reach the White Bay terminal, thereby making Sydney an undesirable port of call.
“We’ve got solutions to enhance the capacity of the Navy and accommodate the cruise industry at Garden Island,” claims NSW Roads, Maritime and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey. “We can help them build more infrastructure at Garden Island which is a win-win for both parties. But we have to have good conversations with the Navy and continue our consultations with them.”
Due to be reviewed by the government, the report recommends that improving the infrastructure on Garden Island to meet the needs of cruise liners is a more cost-effective option to meet demand, rather than building a completely new facility at Botany Bay. It is believed that the Garden Island facility will also provide a unique ‘destination experience’ to visitors that will reflect favourably on Sydney.
A collaborative approach to solving the current cruise ship dilemma is needed, according to Ms Pavey. She believes that the current proposal could be the key to unlocking Garden Island on a permanent basis. Though Garden Island has hosted cruise ships during peak season – under formal request – the Navy has strong objections to sharing the base permanently, claiming it needs sole access to the site for national security reasons.
“It’s clear from the (Collins) report, that government is yet to consider that access to Garden Island is the preferred option, but we will also be looking and investigating all options at Port Botany simultaneously,” said Ms Pavey.
The cruise industry is Australia’s fastest-growing tourism sector, contributing $3 billion annually to the NSW economy. While a new port facility at Botany Bay has not been ruled out, consultation with the tourism industry and the Navy is ongoing.