Garden Island Cruise Ship Access

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SpeakersSpeaker; Owen Mr Tim; O'Farrell Mr Barry
BusinessQuestions Without Notice, QWN

Page: 2542

Mr TIM OWEN: I direct my question to the Premier. What is the Government's response to the Commonwealth Government's proposal to allow cruise ships to dock at Garden Island?

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: I thank the member for Newcastle for that question and not only his longstanding interest in defence matters, which includes Garden Island—

Mr John Robertson: Thank him for not drink-driving as well while you are at it.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition will come to order.

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: The Leader of the Opposition has the member for Kogarah on his front bench, so obviously he adheres to different standards. As I said, I thank the member for Newcastle not only for his interest in defence matters but also his sterling service outside this place in the Australian Defence Force. There is a realisation after 16 years of State Labor Government that New South Wales is now open for business. After 16 years of a government that allowed jobs to be lost to other States people now realise that New South Wales has a government that wants to increase employment and get the economy going again. I am delighted to say that that realisation has now extended to the Federal Government, which today announced a review of the use of the naval docks at Garden Island by visiting cruise ships. The review will examine whether there is scope to increase cruise ship access to Garden Island without affecting the Navy's operations. It will be undertaken by Dr Allan Hawke, a former Secretary of Defence, who of course has wide knowledge of naval operations.

Ms Linda Burney: Yet another review.

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: The member for Canterbury would realise that this is a Federal review if she would ever shut up and listen. The Minister for Defence phoned me about the review at 10.00 a.m. today. Members on this side of politics have been urging that such a review be undertaken for some time. The Deputy Premier and others involved in the tourism and trade sector have also been promoting such a move.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Heffron will come to order.

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: We understand—

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Heffron to order.

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: —the value of the tourism industry. We also recognise that we have a golden opportunity to create more jobs if we can increase the number of cruise ships coming into Sydney Harbour.

The SPEAKER: Order! All members will come to order.

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: The cruise industry is already contributing about $3 billion a year to the Australian economy and we want a bigger slice of that for New South Wales. However, we are currently being constrained by the lack of decent berthing facilities east of the Harbour Bridge.

Ms Kristina Keneally: Is that Barangaroo?

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: Barangaroo is west of the Harbour Bridge. No wonder she lost the election.

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Heffron to order for the second time.

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: Growth in the cruise industry is constrained by the lack of berthing facilities east of the Harbour Bridge because of 16 years of neglect by members opposite. They totally ignored the chance to take advantage of the 20 per cent annual increase in the number of cruise ships visiting this city. When cruise ships visit Sydney they bring passengers who eat in our restaurants, stay in our hotels and buy from our shops, all of which pumps money into the economy, which in turn creates jobs.

The industry estimates that by 2020 almost two out of three ships coming to Sydney will not be able to safely navigate under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In addition there is insufficient capacity at the overseas passenger terminal. Therefore, we urgently need to address the cruise facilities bottleneck in Sydney. If you are cruising the South Pacific, if you are doing an Australian cruise, Sydney is the place you want to come to. We will cooperate with the Hawke review. We will ensure that Allan Hawke has access to any and every government agency and official that he needs, because I am certain that we can find berths west of the Harbour Bridge for naval vessels on the nights—which I understand are fewer than 20—when we need cruise ship berthing east of the Harbour Bridge.

I have made it clear that we will fully cooperate with the Federal Government and with Dr Hawke as part of this review. This is a positive first step towards dealing with the cruise ship issue and naturally I am hoping that that sort of goodwill between the Federal Government and the State Government can continue with projects such as the North West Rail Link. The House can be assured the Government will continue to work with industry and the Commonwealth to pursue every opportunity to boost the State's economy and to boost employment.