THE Port of Eden will receive a major upgrade to expand its capacity as the only safe deep water port between Sydney and Melbourne, thanks to a $10million Federal Grant under Round Four of the Regional Development Australia Fund.
Member for Eden-Monaro Dr Mike Kelly - who visited Eden last week to make the announcement and celebrate with the community - said the Eden Port Strategy Infrastructure project would expand the port’s capacity to handle large cruise ships, more bulk freight and more supply vessels for the Bass Strait oilfields.
Dr Kelly said the upgrade would be a massive boost to the local economy and the wider region, with cruise ship arrivals expected to increase 10-fold to 50 every year.
Australia’s largest cruise operator Carnival Australia welcomed the new funding that it says will put the New South Wales town on the Australian cruise map and deliver significant benefits to the local economy.
Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said the Regional Development funding would allow the deep water port to extend its pier, clearing the way for calls by larger local and international ships.
“True to its name, Eden is a beautiful port to visit but current infrastructure restrictions mean only smaller ships can safely disembark their passengers there,” Ms Sherry said.
“Extending the pier to a total 260 metres will make a big difference, enabling us to add Eden to itineraries on short cruises and longer voyages for many of our brands.”
The project involves dredging to allow berthing of ships with a draft of up to nine metres, construction of a breakwater wharf platform and panel extension, associated amenities, buoys, circulation arrangements and road upgrades to allow heavy vehicle access.
“This is such exciting news for Eden and the wider region and, personally, hugely rewarding after years of work and lobbying to make this vision a reality,” Dr Kelly said.
“The Port of Eden is a fantastic asset for us, the best deep water port in Australia, and we will finally be taking advantage of its potential.
“Not only will this bring up to 2000 passengers into Eden every week, but I have talked to Deane’s bus lines about running tailored packages throughout the region –showing off our Indigenous cultural experiences, historic villages, boutique wine and food, fishing and the High Country.
“This announcement is a win for all of us here in Eden-Monaro.”
As part of the $24.5million project, a fixed panel wave attenuator will control the waves to protect a 150 metre-wide navigation channel into the port, and a 500-metre pedestrian boardwalk will connect the port with the tourist and community precincts of Snug Cove and Cattle Bay.
Small boat arrivals are expected to grow as recreational sailors will be able to moor safely in Eden.
Dr Kelly said the project would generate 45 new jobs in its construction phase and 151 ongoing jobs on completion.
“In conjunction with other major commercial opportunities that I have negotiated for Eden, such as the import of wind turbine components through the Multi-purpose Navy Wharf, this will ensure the town has a golden future.
“I would particularly like to thank former Minister Simon Crean, Ministers Anthony Albanese and Catherine King, Bega Valley Shire Council and the Eden community for working so closely with me on this development.”
The Minister for Regional Australia Catherine King congratulated Bega Valley Shire Council on its successful funding proposal.
“The Australian Government recognises the importance of strong, sustainable regional towns and communities and believes that every Australian, no matter where they live should have access to high-quality education, health services and employment opportunities,” Minister King said.
“This latest round of funding further strengthens regional communities to deliver on that conviction.”
More information on the Regional Development Australia Fund can be found at www.regional.gov.au
State government supports cruise industry
Member for Bega Andrew Constance and Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay also last week announced government support for cruise ships wanting to visit the Port of Eden.
The Ministers announced that at the start of the 2013-14 cruise season, the NSW Government will provide a 100 per cent discount to navigation service charges for the first four cruise ship visits to the Port of Eden.
“A navigation service charge is applied when a vessel enters a port, helping to pay for services and infrastructure such as navigation aids, channel dredging and the building and maintenance of breakwaters,” Mr Constance said.
“Cruise ships are a superb way to relax and travel while the Sapphire Coast is a superb tourist destination, so it makes sense to help marry the two by providing government support by waiving some port charges.”
Minister Gay said there would be a full discount for the first four ship visits, a 35 per cent discount from the fifth to 29th visits and a 50 per cent discount will kick-in at (and above) 30 visits by a single cruise ship company in a year.
“Based on the 70,000 gross tonne Pacific Jewel owned by Carnival Australia, the full government discount equates to approximately $40,000 for each vessel visit to Eden,” Minister Gay said.
“The Australian cruise ship industry is growing at an astonishing rate of knots – about 20 per cent growth each year – and where possible, NSW wants to continue to capture this business.”
Mr Constance said up to 2,000 cruise ship passengers could potentially visit Eden and surrounding areas each visit, providing a great economic boost to local restaurants, cafes and regional attractions on the Sapphire Coast.
“The NSW Government now looks forward to the Commonwealth Government’s decision on the Bega Valley Shire Council’s $15 million Regional Development Australia Fund application for the Eden Port infrastructure Project,” Mr Constance said.
“Should the application be successful, the NSW Government will continue to work with the Bega Valley Shire Council, cruise ship industry and Commonwealth to help firm up commercial arrangements to progress the proposal to the next stage of potential development.”
The infrastructure proposal includes an extension to the existing breakwater wharf in Snug Cove, Port of Eden, to safely accommodate cruise ships alongside.
Following representations from the Member for Bega, the NSW Government established a Project Control Group made up of Department of Premier and Cabinet, Department of Trade and Investment, Sydney Ports Corporation, and Transport for NSW to assess and cost the various options being proposed as part of the Commonwealth grant application.