The Gold Coast, and an artist’s impression of the proposed oceanside cruise ship terminal. Early figures saw the cost as low as $70 million. On May 25 Mayor Tom Tate said the final bill would be between $170 and $450 million.
Tuesday, 19 September 2017
From the ABC: Cruise ships using the Gold Coast's proposed $450 million oceanside terminal could "be pushed to shore" by strong winds and waves, according to a section of an official report which has been withheld from the public.
This warning — and other critical findings — have been blacked out in the publicly released Gold Coast City Council report into the terminal, which cost ratepayers $865,000.
But Four Corners has obtained the unredacted feasibility study, which also questioned whether cruise ship companies and private investors would be prepared to use the Gold Coast terminal. It reveals cruise ship operators, "raised a number of significant concerns with the proposed design" which includes a jetty that would jut hundreds of metres into the Pacific.
The operators pointed out the facility would be in the open ocean and ships would be exposed to ocean waves.
"The prevailing wind is from south and south east, if a ship encounters problems, it could be pushed (by combination of waves and wind) to shore," the unredacted report said. "The risk would be the highest as the ship was preparing to dock, as the speed would be reduced and the ship would be beam on to the prevailing wind."
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, who championed the cruise ship terminal project, declined to be interviewed. But Four Corners approached the Mayor after an event on the Gold Coast and asked if any safety issues had been blacked out in the report.
"Engineering-wise, it's very safe," Councillor Tate said. "The best thing is that it'll create further jobs for the next generation. If at the end of it, if it doesn't tick all the safety box or the environment box, I'll be the first to vote it down, OK?"
Councillors and developer raise doubts over 'ridiculous proposal'
A plan submitted to the Federal Environment Department included provision for up to 150 cruise ships to visit the terminal every year. The terminal would sit on about six hectares of public land on The Spit.
One of the Gold Coast's most prominent developers, Norm Rix, slammed the proposal as one of the Mayor's "ambitious plans".
"It butts onto the oceans itself, and if you're looking for a tourist attraction, well that would be the first cyclone that comes along and washes the cruise ship onto the middle of Main Beach," he said.
A number of Gold Coast councillors have also come out against the project. "I actually don't think it's viable or reasonable or feasible to build a 700-metre jetty out into the open ocean," Councillor Glenn Tozer said.
"I think it's almost a ridiculous proposal," Councillor Peter Young said. "It's a mighty big ocean and it has very powerful waves. There's very many days in any year when they just will not be able to get a ship into this city."
Councillor Young said it was unfair the public had not seen the unredacted report. "I think the public should have the capacity to fully evaluate the information that's been provided. After all, the public paid for the report."
The unredacted report obtained by Four Corners also questioned whether the cruise ship terminal was viable.
"It is unlikely that cruise companies are prepared to sign up to long-term agreements to guarantee usage of the facility or that there would be sufficient desire for private investors to take patronage risk on this large-scale infrastructure," it warned.
The study also said massive infrastructure, such as fuel, water, waste water disposal and food provisioning would be needed onshore for the terminal to work as a base port for Australian cruise lines. It pointed out ships may need more than, "1,000 tonnes of fuel per visit to be taken on board".
On the environmental front, the unredacted feasibility study warned there was a medium risk the terminal's breakwater would have an adverse impact on coastal processes or wave climate at the beach.
Champion surfer Mick Fanning this year labelled the cruise ship terminal plan an "eyesore", warning it would destroy one of the Gold Coast's most amazing beaches.
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE
AUTHORS: Mark Willacy, Janine Cohen & Jeanavive McGregor
SOURCE: ABC – FOUR CORNERS