Northern Beaches Council has unanimously agreed to appeal for the State Government to at least delay the retirement of the iconic large Manly Freshwater class of ferries.
But there are concerns it may be too late, with Deputy Mayor Candy Bingham revealing last night she had been told a number of the new smaller Emerald vessels had already been ordered from China, due to arrive in February.
The meeting, held last night (October 27), saw several speakers in favour of saving the iconic vessels from the scrapheap. This included Paul Garrett, Assistant Secretary – Sydney Branch at Maritime Union of Australia, who called the plan to scrap the vessels a “disgrace.”
“These ferries can last another 30 years. I know it because our members work it,” he said.
Klaudia Brown, representing Manly Business Chamber, also said she felt the decision had not taken in the economic benefit of the tourist dollar via the iconic large ferries.
There were no speakers against the proposal, though Greens Councillors Natalie Warren did question whether we would want potentially less efficient large vessels running as regularly as they have if more efficient options were available. Cr David Walton also said it was worth noting Transport for NSW’s media statement highlighting a total of 328 additional services for commuters.
“It’s not going to be death and destruction for our tourism in Manly,” he said.
But many disagreed. “I think it will kill Manly businesses. If people can’t get to Manly easily they are going to drive their cars to other areas of the Northern Beaches.. this isn’t just a Manly issue,” Deputy Mayor Candy Bingham said in support of her motion to meet with the transport minister over the matter.
“We need to find out what the facts are. We should be pushing for a complete replacement plan.”
Cr Sarah Grattan said it was particularly important that the intangible benefits of the Freshwater class are factored into any decision about the ferries’ future. “The intangible benefit is what the community cares about….. unless we do an assessment, we won’t know how big a hit we will take. The government should consult with the community and compromise, I think there are a number of options that can be taken to ensure we maintain the heritage value.”
Council voted unanimously to make representations to the relevant authorities and to prepare an impact assessment in consultation with the Manly Business Chamber, outlining the financial, brand and heritage impacts to Manly and Sydney’s visitor/tourist economy should the large ferries no longer be part of the F1 route.
You can view the motion details in full by following the link below and scrolling to page 182.
Manly Observer has requested information from Transport for NSW on the matter.