Supporting sea freight availability for Norfolk Island

10 December 2021

The Australian Government continues to actively progress planning to support the availability of freight services to Norfolk Island, and is working closely with industry and the Norfolk Island community to identify solutions to address the current supply chain challenges.

While air services continue to deliver air freight to Norfolk Island, action is being taken to address immediate and mid to long-term solutions to support reliable and sustainable shipping of freight to the island. This work is being undertaken in partnership with stakeholders and the sea freight sector, and with cognisance of actions also being taken concurrently by NIRC.

We are continuing to progress the approvals and construction planning for the proposed interim landing structure at Cascade, to increase Norfolk Island’s capacity to receive the delivery of large freight over the next five years. The landing, and its location in Cascade, is one of the initiatives being explored to reduce freight shortages, the freight backlog and to secure the future supply of freight.

In June, the Department approved detailed designs for the interim landing structure at Cascade, which reflected stakeholder feedback. Since then, the Department has worked with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), Norfolk Island Regional Council (NIRC) and contractors to conduct the environmental surveys required to support environmental approvals. All approvals documentation has now been submitted.

The Department will seek pricing and timeframes from an experienced marine contractor early in 2022 for the proposed construction of the interim landing facility. It is anticipated that construction would occur in stages, to provide the earliest possible opportunity to accept containerised freight at Cascade. Following this approach to market, the Department will have a better understanding of anticipated costs and timeframes, which will inform decisions and next steps.

The Department is also planning a new container wash bay for Cascade, to reduce the risk of potential pest and disease incursion from containerised freight. This facility will support an upgrade of the First Point of Entry determination, allowing containerised freight to be landed.

Should the Cascade landing structure proceed, it has been designed to have minimal effect on land and water access to Cascade Pier during construction. You, the Norfolk Island community, will be further engaged over the coming months as part of the environmental and development approvals processes. Comment on the landing proposal can be made as part of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act assessment process until 22 December 2021 at . I will provide further information on any other opportunities for public comment as they arise.

On current timelines, and depending on the approvals and tender processes, it is estimated the Cascade landing could be completed by late 2022.The approach to market will confirm timeframes.

In a separate and complementary process, Norfolk Island Regional Council is currently pursuing plans for an alternative, shorter-term landing structure at Ball Bay, to support their delivery of key projects in 2022. We will continue to work closely with Council as planning and approvals for both the landing structures progress. Final decisions on construction of the Cascade landing will be made with reference to NIRC's progress with a Ball Bay landing.

In the meantime, the Australian Government has engaged a shipping expert Greig Robertson to work closely with the community to design a targeted, robust, end-to-end shipping supply chain to meet the long-term needs of the Norfolk Island community.

Mr Robertson is undertaking research activities and engaging with key stakeholders. His advice, informed by the experience and expertise of the community, will help underpin our strategy moving forward, including the development of a Ports Management Strategy for the long-term infrastructure and management of Norfolk Island ports and logistics.

He will meet with the Freight Working Group and will be further engaging with a wide range of stakeholders and community representatives in coming months, supported by my office and the Department.

The Department continues working with industry to organise additional voyages to supplement the existing shipping schedule over the coming months, helping to meet critical demand while we continue to progress measures to help reduce the backlog of freight. This includes the additional barge last month.

I remain focused on ensuring we are progressing appropriate measures to address the short, medium and long-term sea freight needs of Norfolk Island, to best support the community and economy.

I will continue to keep you updated as we deliver on these measures to support the long‑term efficiency and effectiveness of Norfolk Island’s sea freight supply chain. Any enquiries about the project and our approach to freight issues can be made to:

Eric Hutchinson

Administrator of Norfolk Island

December 2021