A major business group says Botany Bay may be the only realistic option for Sydney’s third cruise ship terminal.
However, state Labor MPs Ron Hoenig and Michael Daley, who represent electorates on the northern side of the bay, say it would be a disastrous move.
The MPs said it would put thousands more trucks and cars on roads that were already heavily congested.
After years of discussion about the possibility of the bay taking on an extra role, a decision may not be far off.
A working party established by the state government to look at options is believed to be close to reporting to cabinet and this month’s federal budget allocated $300,000 to develop options.
The cruise industry and business supporters have been calling for more capacity because terminals at Circular Quay and White Bay cannot keep up with increasing demand.
They say some cruise ships can’t visit Sydney during the peak season because they can't get a berth.
Fairfax Media reported last year liners larger than the “biggest warships in the world” were causing problems in Sydney Harbour with fears that in time most would not be able to squeeze under the Harbour Bridge to reach the White Bay terminal.
Heffron MP Ron Hoenig advocates Option 3 in a federal government report, which is to lease Garden Island to the cruise ship industry and dedicate some Glebe Island berths to the Navy.
Mr Hoenig said bringing cruise ships to Botany Bay would be “a joke”.
“Apart from just putting more thousands more cars and trucks on our already crippled road network, where are these tens of thousands of tourists visiting Sydney going to go?’ he said.
“Sydney needs access to Garden Island for the larger cruise ships that cannot fit under Sydney Harbour Bridge, to capture valuable economic activity in Sydney.”
Mr Hoenig said another reason for rejecting the proposal was to “protect Botany Bay from further degradation”.
Sydney Business Chamber executive director Patricia Forsythe said there was no argument gaining access to berths at the Navy’s Garden Island would provide needed additional capacity.
However, “the reality is that after a decade of talk and with major works at Garden Island scheduled in the next five years, other solutions need to be explored or Sydney will find itself bypassed by some of the cruise lines”, she said.
“Botany Bay may not be the best option for Sydney in an ideal world but, as it stands at the moment, it is potentially the only option.”
Ms Forsythe said Labor’s opposition was “short-sighted and failing the needs of the broader community”.
“Cruising is one of the success stories of tourism growth, contributing $2.7 billion into the Australian economy,” she said.