The 22,000 signature petition was tabled at Parliament on 25th March and generated lively debate. The Petition was presented by Shadow Minister for Transport, Chris Minns and supported by two other Labor speakers.
It was disappointing that three Liberal speakers, including Local Member James Griffin, and Transport Minister Andrew Constance, effectively dismissed the petition with James suggesting "that the Northern Beaches Council undertake a feasibility study or business case to retain and operate two of the remaining Freshwater Class Ferries".
Perhaps he would like the Council to also look into operating the State schools and hospital in our area too! That suggestion is just as ludicrous.
The campaign continues as we now have information on how these classic ferries can be converted to electric, and major concerns emerge about the inferior quality and major defects found in the proposed replacement Emerald Class ferries.
A paper has been prepared by Fmr Global Senior Vice President of Det Norske Veritas (DNV), the world's largest global Marine Classification Society and Fmr.Chief Engineer, Merchant Navy, Andrew Westwood. A copy is below this article. Andrew's paper sets-out examples from all over the world of how similar double-ended ferries have successfully been converted to electric while slashing operating costs.
Major Concerns Raised
In the meantime, major concerns have been raised about the poor quality of the new Emerald Class ferries, which were built in China. So far, 80 defects have been recorded including that every window needs to be replaced. The hull, which is very thin, is also raising alarms.
If they are anything like the Rivercats built in Indonesia which arrived seven months ago containing asbestos and won't fit safely under two Parramatta bridges, then buyer beware. These 10 ferries were scheduled to operate from the middle of last year but are yet to be approved for service, with testing crews warning they can stall when put into reverse during emergency stops.
We must keep all four Freshwaters at least until the Government can prove that the replacement Emerald Class ferries are fit for the special Manly F1 route, particular crossing the heads during a swell. However if they are anything like the Rivercats I expect we will be enjoying our classic reliable Australian-built Freshwaters for some years yet.
Two icons of Sydney Harbour. One that needs saving.
The Protest in Martin Place before the Parliamentary debate
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor & Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.