The Berejiklian Government down in Sydney tells us that its “Future Transport 2056 Strategy and Plans have been created with input from the community since the program began in 2016. So far, we’ve engaged with over 40,000 people across the State in face-to-face and digital consultations” [https://future.transport.nsw.gov.au/react-feedback].
Allegedly towards that end the NSW Dept. of Transport had a “React Future Transport 2056” van in Grafton for the day on 27 November 2017.
I hopped on a bus and went to Grafton to visit the van because the “Draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy” documents had only two dot points mentioning maritime infrastructure development/cruise terminal in Coffs Harbour/Yamba and I wanted to find out more, as this draft strategy is scheduled to become a final document in 2018.
I told one of the staff manning this van that I had read in the local newspapers about the van and asked if they could tell me what it was all about.
In response the staff member informed me that the government was going all around the state asking people what they felt they needed when it came to transport – not just for years far into the future but for smaller time frames like 10 years. That they weren’t just looking at what trains and buses were available, but they were also looking at roads, cycle ways and even air travel.
I was then asked if I wanted to give my opinion on what I felt the area needed.
What was strikingly absent from the conversation thus far was any mention of what else was in that draft document which might be thought very relevant to the Clarence Valley – the plan to make the Port of Yamba an official cruise ship destination and possibly build a cruise ship terminal in the Clarence River estuary.
So I introduced that particular topic into the discussion and this is what I found out:
1. There was no information available on the government’s proposal for a cruise ship terminal other than those two brief dot points;
2. The “React Future Transport 2056” van would continue to travel around the state but it was never coming to Yamba;
3. There was no timeline for when investigation of a cruise terminal in the estuary would begin; and
4. The communities of Yamba and Iluka would only be consulted when a site for the cruise terminal was being considered and that this community consultation would probably occur as a part of the Environmental Impact Statement process.
The Berejiklian Government obviously has no intention of opening a face-to-face dialogue with communities living within the Clarence River estuary or at the mouth of the river before plans for the Port of Yamba become set government policy and, will probably avoid any meeting with Yaegl traditional owners for just as long if Ministers Pavey and Constance think they can get away with such a blatant snub.
After all the government has already had discussions with the people it thinks matter – it spoke with representatives of the international cruise ship industry in the first half of last year.
Judith M. Melville, Yamba