News

Concerns mount over berth shortage

Industry representatives have criticised a new government white paper for failing to address the Australian cruise industry's need for long-term access to Garden Island as the situation becomes "increasingly urgent".

Carnival Australia chief executive, Ann Sherry, said the Defence White Paper released by the Federal Government on Friday, does not propose a suitable solution to the question of access to the facility beyond the 2013-14 summer cruise season despite growing urgency.

Sherry underlined the firm's "respect" for the Navy's requirements at Garden Island but insisted that, with the number of larger ships on the rise, it is one of only two suitable berths east of the Harbour Bridge – the other being Circular Quay's Overseas Passenger Terminal.

"On this basis, we are seeking access to Garden Island for the overflow of cruise ships that cannot or are unable to berth at Circular Quay during peak summer cruise seasons," she said.

"We remain committed to achieving a solution as soon as possible that addresses the interests of the Navy, cruise industry and wider tourism sector that benefits from the growth of cruising."

Meanwhile, Tourism and Transport Forum acting chief executive Trent Zimmerman echoed the concerns saying the paper gives the issue only a "passing mention".

"It defers the decision to the Hawke Review report released 15 months ago and to an ongoing review process which appears to have made little progress," he said.

"With the Navy reluctant to offer any certainty beyond next season, the tourism industry is calling for leadership from Canberra and a fresh commitment on access to Garden Island for the 2014/15 cruise season and beyond."

The government has so far allowed limited access to Garden Island for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 summer cruise seasons.

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