4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News

4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News
4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News Led by John "Cueball" Mackenzie

22 February 2015


With the Newman government starting to seem more like a bad dream than an actual event, Cairns is still faced with a strident campaign to spend upwards of $150,000,000.00 on one piece of infrastructure - widening, and deepening the Trinity Inlet shipping channel by (only) 1.1 meters and disposing of millions of tons of dredge spoil - somewhere.

This idea was initially driven by what on the surface seemed a laudable goal - getting more of the cruise ships sailing the east coast to park at our boutique port-in-the-city to unload their cashed-up guests.  But as the issue became cause célébre with the hillbilly set, John "Cueball" MacKenzie used the issue to spin the now disgraced Gavin King into the Member for Cairns job by his typical exaggeration and ignorance.

MacKenzie has continually repeated bullshit he says came from the CEO of Carnival Cruises - "Cairns is poised to get at least 150 cruise ships a year, three per week".  This is despite MacKenzie being cited by ACMA for making up other facts - and supposedly being "counseled" about his penchant for spewing bullshit on the public airwaves.  Carnival Cruise has disavowed this comment. 

Ports North own documents predict that larger cruise ship visits will grow to only 63 per year - IN 2026.  And we believe even this is grossly optimistic.  We've asked Ports North for documents that support this assertion, they've declined to provide them.  

Talk now is that the increase in cost is due to the need for onshore dumping of the dredge material.  A perfect landfill for low-lying areas (although we like the idea of keeping East Trinity as it is).  So where are the landowners with low-lying land who want to make a deal for some cheap fill?  How come there are no takers for the land dumping?  

And even more importantly, where are the commitments from the big cruise ship companies guaranteeing use of this facility?  Airports don't build new terminals without signed lease agreements with the airlines in-place.  Queensland Rail doesn't build a new line for a mine without a contract for use in-place.  Why are we building $150M in infrastructure with no guarantee of use?

Given the fickle-ness of the cruise companies, this isn't an empty question.  The cruise industry is notoriously competitive, and with a majority of cruise passengers "repeat" cruisers, the cruise lines work to use a variety of ports, not the same ones over and over again.  Indeed just this weekend P&O Australia announced several new ports, requiring the tender of passengers, at places that surprise most unfamiliar with the cruise business.  Eden, NSW; Mornington and Portland, VIC; and Esperance and Busselton, WA.  How long before Cairns is no longer the "flavour of the month" - and stuck with an underperforming piece of expensive infrastructure (that will still require millions of taxpayer $$$ "maintenance dredging" every year)!

And the Ports North business case for cruise ship stopovers in Cairns is flawed in other ways.  We believe the estimates on per-passenger spend grossly overstated.  Merchants in the CBD quietly voice the same concern.  Passengers don't stay in Cairns for dinner - little in the CBD can compete with
a cruise ship dining experience, and a big part of cruising.  Some short day trips get good numbers (Kuranda, Daintree Village, Port Douglas) but the longer day trips are usually in conflict with the sailing times.  And why would a cruiser buy anything in Cairns but trinkets - surely the duty-free shopping elsewhere will be a better value.

Cruise passengers ex-Australia ports also regularly complain 
about the lack of regulation by the government - with pricing and service anomalies along with misleading advertising the subject of regular complaints.

This in part explains why Deb Hancock at the Cairns Chamber of Commerce can't get their members to even welcome these passengers ashore like so many other towns do.  It's a continual embarrassment that Port Douglas manages a better arrival ceremony than Cairns although passengers are tendered there.  The Chamber under Hancock has been an ineffective rubber-stamp on every idea that costs the taxpayer money, with little thought to what the impacts might be.  

Just because it's "money from Brisbane", "government money" doesn't mean we should be pushing for it without a reasonable business case?  We don't think so.  

Solution?  We'd do much better to invest in a couple 500 passenger high-speed reef boats that could carry tender passengers from the offshore parking spot at Yorkey's Knob to the CBD.  Before the GFC, Quicksilver ran one of their boats from Port Douglas to Cairns at the end of the day, taking a dozen or more coaches off the Cook Highway.  A couple new Wavepiercers, purchased by Ports North (creating jobs in our struggling shipbuilding industry) and operated by any competent company, would cost a hell of a lot less than digging a bigger hole in the ocean, and could still bring the passengers into the Cairns Wharf for on-visits to the region.

A quick 15 minute trip to the Wharf, with thoughtful commentary on the many things on offer for the visitor.  And a fun, high-speed boat ride they can remember later.  That's how tourist destinations are made.  

We're looking for some thoughtful analysis of this situation by our new MP's.  Dredging of the inlet isn't a cost-effective use of taxpayer money.


Bob R. said...

A damn good idea there Hillbilly!

CBD Warrior said...

I agree with your assessment, Bob R. Let's get the Waverunners to pick up all the reef visitors in one go directly from their cruise ship. I've cruised several times, and this kind of "extra, personalised service" is what sets a destination apart from the competitors.

I'm sure others in town can put on their thinking caps and come up with some other great alternatives. Sadly, the "political inertia" to do the illogical thing (dredging) makes many unwilling to voice their disapproval. That's why we have the HBW - to open up the debate.

Ed in Edge Hill said...

A great, rational analysis HBW.

Sadly, government doesn't care about logic.

Alison Alloway said...

Well done there Hillbilly! I had to look up what a "Wavepiercer" was, and found a variety of catamarans ranging from $600,000 up to $5m depending on the size. Yes, surely some agency in the area like Ports North could purchase one and liase with Quicksilver or the Marine College or whoever for crews when required. Seems like THE solution to a problem which has been ongoing now for years!

TAS said...

There has to be a market for day cruising which doesn't only involve going to the reef or Green Island. Nice as it is, not everyone wants to sit anchored off a pontoon for half a day looking at fish.
Day cruising could involve several Far Northern destinations - Port Douglas, Cooktown, Innisfail - providing a full and comprehensive service for the FNQ coastal region and infusing these smaller destinations with the tourism spend. And it would not be to the detriment of Cairns either. The city would be the hub of such services and the greater variety of activity may lead to longer stays and a desire to return.
Think outside the square or same old same old?

Anonymous said...

Also the other problem we have now, they prefer to tender as it is cheaper than paying port fees.

Anonymous said...

Cruise companies will not schedule 3 tender ports in a row, so if Cairns doesn't dredge we will have to hope Townsville does. The 150 ships a year is easily achievable, there has been 138% growth since 2005 in Australia but a 23% decline in Cairns - Qld misses out as there is no port that the larger ships can berth at, so off to Noumea and Port Vila they go, more than 200 a year there. The naysayers in this town will win again, with no Aquis, no cruise ships, we will have to hope the Singapore and Chinese flights still bring some income into this town or it will be curtains for a lot of businesses and jobs.

Anonymous said...

In the tiny town of Nelson on New Zealand's South Island, every cruise ship is met by a brass band. There are more than enough musical types in Cairns to put on a show of a similar nature.

But then that sort of effort is beyond DeWaal and Hancock, surely two of Cairns' greatest ever duds.

Additionally, anyone in the cruise industry will tell you the trend is towards larger ships, not smaller ones. So dredging one metre is as far sighted as the end of Hancock's nose, or a Gavin King political career.

Anonymous said...

Anyone in the cruise industry will also tell you that cruise ships are designed to get into the Caribbean, therefore their draft is no more than 8.5m, so the making the channel 9.4m makes sense, almost like the cruise industry has had input on the project

Anonymous said...

I agree with Alison. There are many anchorages all over the world, where passengers are ferried ashore. Check out the tourist brochures for the cruise companies, & you'll find that, in a lot of cases, the picture perfect liner is anchored well offshore. The surrounding water is blue, not sullied by dredged up
silt. Dredging will always cause muddied waters, no matter where the sludge is dumped.

Tony Hillier said...

FYI, Anonymous 12:47, Ports North does provide musical entertainment in the Liner terminal building for departing cruise ships, although rarely for greeting purposes. I believe plans are in train to welcome cruise passengers who alight at Yorkeys Knob.

Bali resident said...

Are we forgetting the width of Trinity Inlet?

Most new cruise ships being built couldn't turn round in the inlet no matter how deep the channel was, and they are getting bigger all the time.

Build a pier, a wide one, two kilometres long, put all sorts of attractions along it, and a small 'railway', something for the locals as well as the passengers.

Look at Brighton Pier in England, not that long, but they even get a fair sized amusement park onto it, plus pubs, restaurants, amusement arcades, a theatre and shops.

Anonymous said...

WTF Shanghai, hurry up and have your pissy Yum Char and tell these Idiots that we need the SS minnow to enter our harbor as there's a millionaire on board.

Anonymous said...

As a regular cruise passenger, I know most passengers really dislike having to take a ferry to the shore - they want to walk off the ship close to an interesting CBD such as in Cairns. Passengers quite like a welcome party, but this is low priority. As for dredging to take larger ships, the plan includes widening near the cruise terminal so cruise ships can turn around. And why are only the costs of dredging considered? The EIS apparently requires 500 ha of land to place the spoil on shore, with costs vastly over-estimated at $200 - $250m. Why aren't the potential revenues considered too, such as income from immediately selling the additional 446.3 ha of higher State-owned land at East Trinity, which could more than cover even the higher estimate for dredging?

Anonymous said...

"Look at Brighton Pier in England ..."

Roll up roll up to the penny arcade.
Luv those slidin' trays full of 20P's

Anonymous said...

SOT but.... I see that our dear friend Mr Gavin King has been asked to write Candoo's bio. Social media loves it!

sircus said...

Thanks for sorting the BS from the facts HBW and where is the outcry from the fishing party & inlet charter fishing operators.

shanghai said...

fair dinkum WTF give me a break I am so busy looking after all our Asian friends from the middle kingdom I cant get a booking for yum cha anywhere bastards don't they know who we are ?

Anonymous said...

the mayor and his wife haven't drawn a wage since they took over events nq, what sort of businessman is he? what have they been doing?

why isn't his business failures on the front page of the compost?

herb said...

cruise ships only fucken go where the owners want it to go, regardless of port size. no fun tickets for them = no visit. ya capiche ?

Anonymous said...

"Cruise companies will not schedule three tender ports in a row". Has anyone liaised with the cruise companies on behalf of Cairns seeking they overturn this policy, if indeed it is one?

pretty things said...

is it possible to build a 2km jetty at Yorkeys Knob. That way passengers could disembark and travel along the jetty on jetty train while being told of the many things to do in our region.
In addition, people who love to fish could access deep water fishing all year round without a boat for a nominal annual fee. This has been built in Busselton WA and is a huge drawcard for tourism in the area,
http://www.busseltonjetty.com.au/ complete with underwater observatory and interpretive centre...this would have to cost less than the amount to widen and dredge the inlet and would offer not only access for ALL cruise ships regardless of size, but something for the locals as well as being a drawcard for tourists not arriving on ships.

Anonymous said...

Where do you get the 2km from? Need to go much further to get to deep water, cost is huge for an ocean berth, huge amounts of piles to be driven and the weather would stop berthing when over 25kts, which happens all to often, then after all that you are still in Yorkeys Knob, not the CBD. What happened to Lucinda Jetty in Cyclone Yasi?

pretty things said...

The Busselton Jetty is only 1.8km long. while I am unsure of the feasibility of this idea for Cairns as I don' t know the depth required for the cruise ships, nor do I know how far out a jetty would need to go to accomodate such a vessel, I guess what I am doing is asking is it possible??? as my opening comment suggests it is an question about an alternative to dredging which still wont allow the largest ships to manoever in our inlet. And yes Lucinda Jetty suffered much damage in Yasi, as did many ports and inlets. Any infrastructure in the path of Yasi was damaged regardless of whether it was a jetty out into the ocean or a port closer to land.

I guess to overcome the problem with getting off the boat in Yorkeys knob... you could always have a tour bus collect any tourists wanting to head into town.