The last rites have been administered to the much vaunted Gold Coast Cruise Terminal – the pet project of former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman – with the state’s current Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk effectively ruling out any hope of a development to welcome cruise ships into the city from being realised.
Speaking on ABC Radio over the weekend, Premier Palaszczuk said the state’s focus for investment into cruise infrastructure in the state’s south-east was on a planned $100 million terminal at Luggage Point, on a site east of the Gateway Bridge and near Brisbane Airport. The Premier said that if this facility went ahead, there would be no need for a terminal on the Gold Coast, which was to be positioned at Wave Break Island, near Surfers Paradise.
“Once this cruise ship terminal opens up here at Luggage Point, with its proximity that it has to the airport, I think you’ll find that there may not be a need for that second cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast,” the Premier said.
The comments effectively bring down the curtains on the proposal, which was being driven by a privately run consortium and heavily funded from foreign investors. A major tactic of this consortium was to stress that no funding from Queensland or Australian taxpayers would be required to develop the terminal, however environmental concerns led to an overall rejection of the plan by Gold Coast residents, with the Palaszczuk government withdrawing its support in April last year.
Original plans for the Wave Break Island development also called for residential estates, a boat marina, multiple hotels and a casino.
Carnival Australia and Royal Caribbean Cruises in Australia are heavily involved in the push for the new Brisbane facility to become a reality, with both eager to capitalise on the growing cruise passenger market by basing larger ships in the state. Currently, only a very limited number of cruise ships are able to navigate the Brisbane River to reach the existing Hamilton Wharf, which is much closer to the city centre.
At present, P&O Cruises bases the 2,020 passenger Pacific Dawn in Brisbane, while the current 2016/17 season will also mark the final residency of Royal Caribbean’s 2,076-guest Legend of the Seas before it is redeployed to Europe. Other ships too large to navigate the river call in Brisbane regularly, instead stopping at one of the city’s freight or grain terminals on the city’s outskirts.