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Monday, February 13, 2012

Minister of defence ponders Garden Island review

by Stephen Jones - Travel Today

The cruise industry is holding its breath as the minister of defence Stephen Smith considers the possibility of cruise lines sharing Garden Island with the navy.

Aerial view of RAN facility at Garden Island (facing south)

An independent review, initiated by the government and conducted by Sir Allan Hawke, has been completed and is now with the ministry.

Sir Allan has spend the past seven months consulting with the navy, cruise lines and stakeholders.

Prime minister Julia Gillard is believed to have told Carnival Australia chief executive Ann Sherry that a recommendation is imminent - a comment regarded as positive by Carnival.

“Carnival believes the PM would not have said anything about the review and washed her hands of it if the government was about to deliver an unfavorable recommendation,” one source said.

The cruise line is believed to hopeful of a positive outcome.

The navy has consistently dug its heels in over sharing facilities at Garden Island, continually pushing the emotive argument of national security for its unwillingness to share the location with passenger liners.

A spokesman for the ministry of defense told Travel Today that the report has been delivered to Stephen Smith’s office.

“No decision has been made on when and how the findings of the Independent Review of the Potential Cruise Ship Access to Garden Island will be made public,” the spokesman said.

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