West Rocks Docks

Discussion Paper

The Next Step for friends of Sydney Harbour as a working port.

25 August 2005


The Sydney as a Working Port FORUM held at the Sydney Town Hall last night highlighted some very disturbing issues that must now be addressed.

It is evident that the NSW State government has already made its decision to effectively close Port Jackson and in particular the site at West Rocks comprising the Patrick/P&O; Dock #s 3 to 8 which the government has now renamed, East Darling Harbour.

In our view the key issue relates to the process undertaken by the government to develop the site once it is vacated by Patricks and P&O.;

It is clearly evident that neither the shipping industry nor the workers were consulted when the announcement was made by Premier Bob Carr at the NSW State Labour Conference in May 2003 to dismantle the long-standing government policy to retain Port Jackson as a Working Port.

In making the announcement to abandon the policy of retaining Port Jackson as a working port, when first presented in May 2003 it may have been acceptable if it had been presented as a option and was then followed-up by a consultative process to clarify all issues.

* This was not done. Big mistake.

* By not consulting with either the industry or the workers, the government denied itself the opportunity to be in a position to identify all risks associated with such a decision.

* A list of potentially significant risks were identified and presented at the meeting at the Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday, 24 August 2005.

* In particular is the issue of the flow-on impact that these decisions will have on the viability of a wide range of services that are currently available in Port Jackson. Once the docks go, the services go with them including the capacity of Port Jackson to deal with maritime emergencies, including fires/explosions through to pollution containment and removal. Not to mention National Security & Border Security implications of taking one of the best deep water harbours in Australia effectively out of commision.

* Without the capacity in place to service Port Jackson as a working port, the risks to any and all users of Sydney Harbour will increase significantly.

* How big this risk is, is anyones guess for this government it seems they dont care, and if in so doing they deny this asset to all future Australians, the governments attitude presents as ah well, too bad, so what, well be long gone.

* By deliberately avoiding any input to identify potential risks, the government has recklessly embarked on a program without knowing what could happen, let alone what the consequences might be.

* It is thus our assertion that the government, by deliberately avoiding any input that might identify risks associated with this decision, and in so doing avoiding having to consider the likelihood or impact of these potential risks, is deliberately, knowingly and willingly negligent.


Required now is activation of a program that will force the government into action.

There must be a clear Action Plan, which will:

1. Push the Sydney as a working port story to the front page?

2. A heightened Public Campaign to push the NSW Labour government to reverse its decision of October 2003?

And from this:

3. Commission the Australian Heritage Council to nominate a group of independent figures from the Shipping Industry, The Unions and the Community and experts from the Planning bodies that will prepare a long term Master Plan for Port Jackson.

As Sydney grows and the world changes this Master Plan will continue to evolve. Thus there should be a fourth element to the target outcome for this project:

4. That a mechanism be established that ensures this group also evolves into an on-going, independent entity (possibly with funding provided by a mix of both government and industry support?).

In others words, do it properly, with a commonsense end game in mind - as should have happened in the first place.

NB: Prepared by a concerned citizen of Sydney (Abridged for space) who is sick of the 'secret deals with the mate's syndrome' that is destroying our state.

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This page was last updated Mon Mar 20 19:01:04 2006 Pacific time