Calls for ScoMo to let cruise ships access Garden Island
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been told to live up to his tourism roots by standing up to the Navy and giving cruise ships access to Garden Island.
The desperate plea to the former boss of Tourism Australia is just the latest episode in a tug of war battle over what should be a simple answer to solving a massive Sydney issue.
Tourism industry leaders are calling on Mr Morrison to support the lucrative cruise industry, which injects $1.6 billion into the NSW economy each year.
The Garden Island issue is such a hot topic because Sydney's current berths are nearing capacity during peak season as large and mega cruise ships - over 51m - increasingly replace small cruise ships.
The biggest ships don't fit under the Harbour Bridge to reach White Bay.
But the Prime Minister has indicated he won't be changing the federal government's position, which is to keep Garden Island exclusively for the Navy.
Peter Collins, a former leader of the NSW Liberals and a decorated Navy captain, advised the state government this year on how to address the capacity issues.
"Garden Island is the solution," Mr Collins said.
"A shared facility with the Navy is entirely do-able. The one person who should be able to understand this better than any of us is Prime Minister Scott Morrison."
And despite a series of setbacks for the cruise industry, Tourism & Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond said the fight for Garden Island was far from over.
"Sydney Harbour and Garden Island is still the best solution," Ms Osmond said.
"For ships coming to Sydney the money shot is the Harbour - it's our crowning glory."
She called on Mr Morrison to show initiative.
"It's an ideal opportunity for a Prime Minister who has a very significant tourism background to step in and find a collaborative solution around Garden Island," Ms Osmond said.
"We need someone in federal government to take leadership and understand the value of the industry."
In the face of the federal government's failure to facilitate access to Garden Island, the state government is forging ahead with a solution to the capacity issues and is set to receive a business case for building a cruise terminal at Port Botany by the end of the year.
Port Botany, and Garden Island if allowed, would be used for overflow of ships during peak season from January to March.
"Our state has been the victim of its own success when it comes to cruise as more and more ships and passengers wish to visit our beautiful coastline and iconic Harbour City," Tourism Minister Adam Marshall said.
NSW Labor tourism spokeswoman Penny Sharpe also backs the use of Garden Island - which puts her at odds with federal Labor.
"The cruise industry is incredibly important," she said.
Mr Morrison refused to comment, while Defence failed to outline why they needed sole use of Garden Island.
Lulu Carter, 23, said she enjoyed cruising holidays and thought we should really make the most of our most famous landmarks.
"They (tourists) definitely want to see this. This is beautiful. Sydney Harbour is what it is all about," she said.