Nov 21, 2016

Constituency Statement – White Bay

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:55):  I rise to propose specific solutions to the problem of cruise ship pollution in White Bay in my electorate. In June, I contacted the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, to offer bipartisan support for action to ensure that cruise ships on Sydney Harbour use low-sulphur fuel. At that time, the New South Wales government announced that their regulation to impose a 0.1 per cent sulphur content limit on fuel used by cruise ships in Sydney Harbour would not come into effect because recently introduced federal legislation had inadvertently made the New South Wales government’s new regulation inoperable. This New South Wales regulation remains in place, although it does not have effect in law.

Residents living close to the White Bay terminal have been legitimately concerned about the health impact of the sulphur based fuels being used by cruise ships since the terminal opened. They have been active on this issue for many years. Today I propose both a short-term and a permanent solution to this problem of air pollution. There is no reason that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority cannot immediately fix this through a marine order that places in federal regulation the same low-sulphur fuel requirements for cruise ships as previously set in regulation by the state government. I call on Minister Chester and the government to do this as a matter of urgency.

Cruise ships docked in dense urban areas need strict regulation of their emissions, but we know there is also the technology available to allow emissions from these ships to be eliminated. Ship-to-shore power must be delivered. It allows cruise passenger ships that are docked to be able to access land based power. This can eliminate the need for ships to burn fuel while in port and provide a permanent solution to the problem of air pollution from cruise ships. It is now five months since I received assurances from the minister that this issue would be addressed, but for more than five years Balmain residents have been advocating for proper environmental regulation of this cruise passenger terminal. I am pleased that the cruise ship industry has agreed to voluntarily adhere to the use of low-sulphur fuel as an interim measure, but Commonwealth action is now required to secure permanent protections. I believe that Minister Chester understands this. Where the Commonwealth makes legislation that has unintended ill effects, the Commonwealth has a responsibility to find a remedy. I am proposing a constructive way forward, but I am also putting the minister and the government on notice that if they continue to fail to act I intend to propose and fight for proper environmental protections against cruise ship emissions for my local community.