Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: "Garden Island is a naval base and the ships of the Royal Australian Navy will always have the priority there, not … cruise ships."
The original Sydney Harbour cruise terminal is struggling to services the number of vessels arriving, and the height of the Harbour Bridge precludes some of the larger cruise ships from docking at the second terminal at White bay.
Port Botany, just south of Sydney Harbour, is a deep-water seaport and Australia's largest container port. It specializes in trade in manufactured products and bulk liquid imports including petroleum and natural gas. The idea of locating a terminal there has been criticized, because it is further from the heart of Sydney and roads are already congested.
New South Wales Tourism Minister Adam Marshall said he was disappointed by the Federal Government’s decision not to allow ships to dock at Garden Island. “That was our first preference, both of the NSW Government and of the cruise industry.” Certainly Botany Bay is not ideal, he said, but internationally, there are many examples of cruise ship ports that are a long way away from the CBD of the city. He said it may be possible for cruise ships to first enter Sydney Harbour to view the sites before berthing at Port Botany.
A recent Cruise Lines International Assocation’s (CLIA) Economic Impact Report showed that the cruise industry contributes in excess of A$5 billion ($3.7 billion) to the Australian economy, A$3.1 billion ($2.3 billion) coming from New South Wales. “Sydney is Australia’s cruise gateway, and ensuring we have the capacity to accommodate more ships, means we will see more international ships bringing international visitors to our shores, as well as the prospect of more homeported ships – which would have a massive flow on effect to businesses and communities far beyond the ships and ports,” said the CLIA.
The NSW Government is also looking at developing cruise terminals in regional towns, including Eden, Newcastle and Port Kembla.