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Report of the Review into cruise ship access to Garden Island

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Minister for Defence - Report of the Review into cruise ship access to Garden Island

29 March 2012

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


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


• 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


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:

Media Contacts:

Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392

Department: (02) 6127 1999