Who deserves Moore of the blame? The Daily Telegraph splashed with a page-two story yesterday about how the Sydney City Council closed and narrowed streets in The Rocks district, meaning cruise ships can’t be delivered fresh supplies when docked at Circular Quay. Therefore, Sydney businesses miss out on around $1 million in supplies per ship, estimated Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry …

It’s a worthy story. Except the council didn’t close Argyle St. That street is the responsibility of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, a fact Campion acknowledges at the bottom of the article: “Ms Moore’s spokesman said the issue required the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority to write a traffic plan. SHFA said it was up to Sydney Ports. Sydney Ports only controls the access road from George St.” When Crikey asked SHFA who was responsible for access to the port, it replied: “In regards to Argyle St, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority has ensured that provedore trucks have access through the pedestrianised Jack Mundey Place (which is located on Argyle St) as required. This arrangement has been in place since 2007.”

So there’s a confusing group of authorities in charge of the Rocks area and access to the cruise ship dock. Not that that information stopped the Tele running a damning editorial of Sydney City Lord Mayor Clover Moore yesterday, blaming Moore for the decision and declaring: “The city of Sydney can no longer afford Lord Mayor Clover Moore.” It continued: “Left to her own devices, Moore would drive all large-scale business from the CBD. Her bike lanes have already compromised business and commuter traffic, and now access to The Rocks has become so limited that trucks are unable to use the area’s roads in order to restock visiting cruise ships.

Yesterday, Moore’s office contacted Campion asking for a letter to be published today, noting it was SHFA that controls Argyle St and other roads in the Rocks area.

The Sydney City Council also provided evidence to the Daily Telegraph that it had raised concerns back in 2008 about vehicle access to the cruise ship docks. In a letter sent by the Sydney City Council area planning manager to SHFA on July 31, 2008 about the development of Argyle St (and seen by both Crikey and The Daily Telegraph) it states:

“The impact upon the parking and traffic implications for the area should be carefully examined. Information from the City of Sydney Traffic Department indicates that an adverse impact upon the Overseas Passenger Terminal access in Circular Quay may result and that it will be necessary to gain concurrence from Sydney Waterways in this respect.”

Campion instead told the council that she had a 2011 letter from the Local Pedestrian, Cycling and Traffic Calming Committee saying it supported the closure of Argyle St.

The traffic committee is a statutory body made up of representatives from the Roads and Maritime Services, NSW Police, local members of parliament and the City of Sydney Council — but it’s not a council committee, it was actually established by the state government. Having said that, the 2011 letter sent on behalf of the traffic committee to SHFA saying that it had  “no objection” to the closure of Argyle St/Jack Mundey place except for morning service deliveries to local businesses and emergency service access, is written on City of Sydney letterhead.

Moore’s letter to The Daily Telegraph was not published today. Nor was a correction which was requested by the City’s Director of City Engagement. “Since the current editor of The Telegraph was appointed it’s been clear he is running a campaign; even so I was surprised,” Moore told Crikey. “After making it clear the City did not control roads in the Rocks area, they still went ahead with their story and the editorial. I was even more surprised that they chose not to correct the record the next day.”

Paul Whittaker told Crikey that he had received no letter from Moore, but “if Clover Moore wants to send a letter to the editor, I’ll publish it.” A new article appeared on The Tele website this morning discussing the “war of words” over who has responsibility for maintaining the roads for cruise ship access: SHFA or the Sydney City Council. David Jones, a spokesman for Carnival Australia, told Crikey it had spoken to many council authorities and was working closely with the state government. And yet, Piers Akerman took to the paper’s op-ed pages today to put the blame squarely on Clover Moore and other “political pygmies”. — Amber Jamieson

Megaupload founder defeats US govt attempts to jail

“Upset at the decision to grant Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom freedom, the US Government, argued yesterday in an appeal hearing that he should be put back in jail. Today they failed in that attempt and Dotcom remains a free man — at least for now.” — Torrent Freak

Andrew Breitbart, conservative blogger, dies at 43

“Andrew Breitbart, a conservative blogger and activist who used undercover video to bring discredit and disgrace to his liberal targets, died Thursday. He was 43.” — The New York Times

Defence editor of the Sun arrested in police payments probe

“Virginia Wheeler, defence editor of the Sun, has today been arrested by officers working on Operation Elveden, the investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to police.” — journalism.co.uk

Community TV switches off analogue

“As of yesterday Community TV broadcasters TVS (sydney) and Channel 31 (Melbourne) have switched off their Analogue and are broadcasting only in Digital.” — TV Tonight

Did Cameron ride Brooks’s police horse?

“David Cameron had hoped to have drawn a line under his mildly embarrassing friendship with Rebekah Brooks. But the prime minister has now found himself caught up in what is inevitably becoming known as Horsegate.” — The Guardian

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey