Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Battery Point: swords drawn

Margaretta Pos

THE swords are drawn and those who man the Battery Point ramparts are on guard against invasion. Not by the French or Russians, who were feared in the early days of settlement. No, by residents from within. Residents who object to people claiming to represent them without any mandate to so so and in so doing, denying them access to the foreshore of the historic Hobart suburb.

Tonight at 7.30pm, those with a vested interest in keeping the hoi poloi off the foreshore will meet in a waterfront home.
They will attend a meeting called by Friends of the Foreshore Inc, which, it’s rumoured, has applied for heritage listing to prevent a walkway for the great unwashed.

And who called this meeting? Why, the vice chairman of this new group, Ken Hosking. Ken is a foreshore resident and with his wife Patricia, is the holder of one of two property titles to the low water mark. The other is held by former Tasmanian Chief Justice and Governor, Guy Green, and his wife Rosslyn.

Ken is a long time member of the Battery Point and Sullivans Cove Community Association committee. And where will this meeting be held? Why, at the home of John White, also a long serving member of the BPSCCA committee and its senior vice president — who is ably assisted by fellow committee member, his brother-in-law Paddy Turnbull.

The BPSCCA has staunchly protected the suburb from unsympathetic developments over many years, for which it is to be commended. It has also staunchly protected the interests of the majority of its committee, without declaring this interest when its president, David Edwards, makes public statements or writes official letters over the vexed issue of public access to the foreshore. The hard-working president — who doesn’t live on the waterfront — is closely associated with Mr White who, I readily declare, is an old mate. But not over this.

And how do I know about this covert meeting? Well, selected residents received a flyer from Ken. But one dropped into the letterbox of a someone who gave it to a dissident member of the BPSCCA committee, Margot Giblin. (Read more here). That’s right, the committee is not a unanimous group. Those who control it welcome a dissident minority — enabling them to say the association represents the community’s voice. And sadly, the community is apathetic enough to let them get away with it.

However, there has been so much bad press about man-made restrictions to public access to the foreshore that certain people have decided to mount a rearguard action. The latest battle in a long drawn-out war was triggered by a series of articles I wrote last year, when working for the Mercury, of my journey from Castray Esplanade to the Alum Cliffs at Kingston and the obstacles that confronted me in Battery Point. At the time, I was a member of the BPSCCA committee — I think from October 2004 to March 2005 — and it wasn’t appreciated. I well remember the response of one member of the committee when another suggested a public meeting to gauge public opinion: “We don’t call a public meeting to find out what people want, we call a public meeting to endorse what we want.”

A classic example of self-interest occurred before the Hobart City Council election last year, when Mr Edwards and I, and another two other candidates from Battery Point were standing for election (unsuccessfully), plus sitting alderman Peter Sexton (who was re-elected). Along with other community organisations, the BPSCCA called a meeting to hear what all candidates had to say. The day after, it was revealed that the committee had approved a motion by Mr White, to give $1000 to Mr Edwards’ campaign. The decision was taken after the AGM, where it wasn’t raised — a week before the forum. Effectively the forum was a charade.

And what does Mr Edwards think of public access to the foreshore? In a letter to then Environment and Planning Minister Judy Jackson, in February 2005, he said: “It appears to the Association that certain Aldermen are using the Battery Point foreshore issue for their own purposes: they have seized upon populist issues and have embellished their statements with untruths, half-truths and innuendo. This strategy not only lacks basic integrity, but is also extremely offensive and
personally distressing to affected residents.” What Mr Edwards didn’t say, was that members of his committee were chief among the “distressed residents.”

There is no reason in the world not to join a community organisation because you have a personal interest in what goes on around your home. Indeed, there is every reason to join one and to express your views. But for the president of an organisation to write an official letter on behalf of his association, without declaring that some members of his committee had a vested interest in what he was advocating, is questionable.

The letter goes on: “The Association would like to draw your attention specifically to the claims by some Aldermen that the titles to 11 and 13 Marine Terrace (owned by Guy Green and Ken Hosking) are in some way deficient, and the portion of these titles which extend beyond the high water mark have in some way been ‘claimed’ by past owners by some
‘fraudulent’ or inappropriate means. Such claims are both false and strike at the heart of the lands title system …”

The alderman who has consistently argued for public access to the foreshore is Jeff Briscoe. Unfortunately, Mr Briscoe’s attempts are sullied by his personal attacks on Mr White and his family. Jeff just can’t help himself when it comes to John and his father, the late Sir Alfred White. Lord Mayor Rob Valentine is his usual nice guy self on the issue — as any journalist who asks his opinion on anything can tell you. By that I mean he never wants to say anything to offend anyone if he can help it. Alderman Darlene Haigh, surprisingly, is a forthright defender of the waterfront residents, saying at one council meeting I attended that their houses would be at greater risk of burglaries if there was a walkway.

Mr Edwards ends his letter: “To assist the Association maintain the currency of its position on the issue, it would be helpful if you could confirm that the Government maintains its earlier position that a promenade or similar built structure would not be supported.” Well, Ms Jackson was non-committal in her reply. But Premier Paul Lennon did that two weeks ago.
Why would the Premier buy into such a bitter parish fight? And why would he want to reserve the Battery Point foreshore at a time when he supports the destruction of the Ralphs Bay foreshore? Frankly, it beggars belief.

If you don’t want to risk life and limb walking around the foreshore, I suggest you drive down to the Purdon and Featherstone Reserve. As you face the water, to your left, is a fence which juts out into the water — the Hoskings property. (It’s the fence Mr Briscoe likes to choose as his backdrop when having a media interview). On the other side,
Incat boss Bob Clifford built a modern house and bulldozed the land in front of it right out into the water, with a galvanized fence obstructing the view. To allow public right-of-way, which he blocked, there is a path between his house and the one behind it, leading to the Napoleon St parks. But it looks like the entry to his house and for reasons unknown, the Hobart City Council didn’t put up a sign to show it is a right-of-way.

But back to Margot Giblin. Intrepid woman that she is, she made 300 photocopies of the Friends of the Foreshore Association flyer and on Saturday night, letter boxed the suburb. And what does the flyer say?

“Members of the Association will have noticed recent reports in the media that are of concern to all of us who oppose the construction of an elevated promenade along the Battery Point foreshore. The purpose of the meeting is to inform members of the developments and to discuss the Association’s response. This is an important meeting and all members
and friends are encouraged to attend if at all possible. All Battery Point residents and friends who have an interest in preserving the Battery Point foreshore in its natural state, whether presently members of the Association or not, are welcome.”

The question of an ugly, elevated promenade, of course, is a red herring. Most sensible people want to be able to walk along the foreshore — Ms Giblin has long advocated a scramble track. But opposition is likely to lead to a built walkway, which does not mean some huge concrete horror. It could be one which ties in with the slip rails and jetties which run out into the water

Alas for Mr Hosking, rather more people than intended may turn up at tonight’s meeting at Mr White’s house — which is being held just eight days before the BPSCCA’s AGM, when the committee is up for annual re-election. There hasn’t been a flyer distributed about the AGM and there’s no sign yet on the Community Hall notice board. It was
advertised in the Mercury, as required by law, but it’s run as an in-house event, as Ms Giblin exposed after “Battery Pointer” promoted the AGM on this website (Read more here).

So, residents, if you want a say in your suburb, go to the Battery Point post office, pay the $5 annual subscription, get a nomination form from Mr Edwards (whose contact details are listed on the Community Hall notice board opposite the post office), return it by Thursday and vote at the AGM on Tuesday October 3rd at 7.30pm.

If not, well, let the two Associations rip.

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  1. Margaretta Pos

    September 25, 2006 at 1:05 pm

    I am delighted the Hobart City Council unanimously approved Jeff Briscoe’s motion last night to write to the State Government for approval for a feasibility study into a low impact walkway around the Battery Point foreshore.

    I am surprised, however, by the Mercury report today (September 26): “Ald Briscoe said he believed a agroup called “Friends of the Foreshore’ was meeting last night at the Battery Point waterfront home of former Labor MHA John White.”

    Yesterday, Tasmanian Times revealed the formation of Friends of the Foreshore and that it was meeting at Mr White’s home, hence Mr Briscoe’s comment, but a story the Mercury didn’t know about because it only checks mainstream media.

    The Mercury ended: “Battery Point resident David Edwards said a planned meeting by residents last night had been cancelled. Mr White could not be contacted.”

    Let’s hope the ‘exclusive bruvvers’ accept they have lost – but don’t hold your breath.

  2. Guy Parsons

    September 25, 2006 at 7:18 am

    This battle could be presented as an icon of the issues that erupt and can be readily buried at all levels of government.

    Superficially, it is about misguided self-interest, but more broadly it is about the difficulty of clear-thinking individuals in representing the total community interest.

    The thought and energy put into it by such people as the cantankerous Ms Pos and the Aldermanic Mr Briscoe are to be applauded, they are reminders that statesmanship can prevail over matesmanship as long as it is known that they have a good measure of support behind them.

    I stand behind, or alongside, both without reservation.

    It is also much more comfortable – both commercially and professionally – for media to let otherwise-sleeping dogs lie. Good on the Tasmanian Times and The Mercury for keeping the wounds open.

    Personally, if a genie were to give me the powers of Pol Pot or Joseph S, I would give some thought to Justabloke’s ultimate solution on this one.

  3. Jeff Briscoe

    September 25, 2006 at 1:04 am

    Tonight at the Hobart City Council my motion with respect to a proposed low impact Battery Point walkway was passed without dissent.

    It now over to the state government and the appropriate Minister to see their attitude to the HCC doing a feasibility study for a low impact walkway around and on the foreshore of Battery Point.

    As to Ms Pos’s perception about my attitude to the White family her perception is incorrect.

    My intention is to always address the issues and not the personalities but sometimes even my patience wears thin (hopefully only occassionally) and my humorous family inspired comment about the antics of the late Sir A White was intended just to be that.

    SO please forgive me Ms Pos for fighting what we know has been a battle with powerful influential and wealthy individuals on the waterfront. Ms Pos’s article above inspired my comments at Council tonight and I believe they were significant in getting the full Council’s support! So I give credit to where credit is due.

    The Mercury Newspaper and the Tasmanian Times with some wonderful investigative stories have revealed much about the means certain individuals have used their influence successful to stop (until now) assessing good public projects – such as a Battery Point walkway – it appears now the tide has turned in the public’s favor.

    But as individuals depart from the public debate the sigificant issues will still remain and one hopes that the Government will form a partnership with HCC to progress a walkway from Hobart to Sandy Bay around Battery Point, which I believe to be the most significant project for Hobart citizens and its visitors.

    (Ald) Jeff Briscoe

  4. Barry Brannan

    September 24, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    It seems to me with the uncertainies of the BPSCCA and who it actually represents, the Hobart City Council should be careful in evaluating their input. Sure they can evaluate any arguments presented but they should not take the views of the association as representative of the views of the general community.

    Council is under no obligation to listen to the association. Council should do their own research and use their own judgement to determine the right decisions.

  5. Margot Giblin

    September 24, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    As of this morning nomination forms for the Battery Point and Sullivans Cove Community Association committee are available at the Battery Point Post Office, next to Jackman and McRoss in Hampden Rd. $5 paid now to make you a financial member would of course cover you until the 2007 AGM at this time next year.

    You can, on the one form, be nominated for an office bearer’s position and/or to be a committee member.

    Margot Giblin. Battery Point

  6. Justa Bloke

    September 24, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    The problem began when building was first permitted on Battery Point.

    There is a simple solution. The government should compulsorily acquire the whole of Battery Point, demolish all buildings and foster the re-establisnment of native forest.

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