The Week in Focus: An inevitable outcome

The Week in Focus: An inevitable outcome
By admin

There was no disguising the intense disappointment felt by the cruising industry after hopes of sharing Garden Island with the navy were dashed.

I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised.
Despite encouraging noises that appeared to inject optimism within Carnival Australia and its tireless chief executive Ann Sherry, the independent report – albeit one conducted by a former secretary of defence – concluded that the requirements of the navy were “essentially incompatible” with those of the cruise industry.
For that, read the navy weren’t interested in finding a solution. Travel Today was not privy to the conversations that took place during the review process but would anyone seriously suggest with a straight face that the navy genuinely sought to reach some sort of compromise? May be that’s unfair. But I doubt it.
Admittedly, it wasn’t the navy who drew the conclusion that cruise lines were persona non grata at Garden Island. It was Sir Allan Hawke. But you can bet good money that the all encompassing “interests of national security” argument was trotted out in a grave and forceful manner.
In hindsight, we were all lulled into a false and naïve sense of hope. Sharing Garden Island was a pipe dream.
The report will be considered by the government but if you’re expecting any reversal of the recommendations, think again.
So we’re fundamentally back to square one and facing more meetings, working groups, committees, studies and reports. Spare us.
Singapore, which has developed a magnificent cruise terminal, must be laughing at Sydney and Australia’s attitude towards improving the cruising infrastructure. And Ann Sherry’s warning that international cruise ships could ditch Australia in favour of more forward-thinking ports in Asia is not so wide of the mark, however much Sydney thinks of itself.
The New South Wales capital exudes an air of arrogance that is at times badly misplaced. It is an attractive city with an impressive harbour but it should stop kidding itself that tourists or cruise lines will visit because it is, well, Sydney.
There are many, many destinations that are more than a match for Sydney so to rest on its laurels, as it clearly has done for years, is a dangerous game to play.
Webjet has made an audacious bid to rejoin the fuel surcharge class action in Sydney’s Federal Court. As exclusively reported in Travel Today, the online firm will make an application for reinstatement at a hearing next month – four years after withdrawing from the action.
The intriguing aspect to an already interesting case is that Qantas is somehow involved in Webjet’s current predicament.
For those with long memories – this case dates back five years now – Qantas faced accusations that it pressurised agents to withdraw from the class action, or “opt out” to use the legal parlance, in exchange for favourable commercial terms.
In remains to be seen whether this will form the basis of Webjet’s argument but the retailer needs to come up with something persuasive in order to be reinstated.
This could, in fact, become a test case of sorts. If Webjet successfully argues that Qantas put undue pressure on it to opt out back in 2008, surely other travel agents could follow its lead.

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