More than three months after writing letters to Minister for State Growth Peter Gutwein concerning the proposed kunanyi/Mount Wellington cable car development, people who wrote these letters all recently received the same pro forma letter from the Minister dated 13 December 2018 stating that …

1) The Government has long been on the record of supporting a cable car on kunanyi/Mount Wellington and is of the view that there is wide community support for such a project to be realised; 2) The Cable Car Facilitation (kunanyi/Mount Wellington) Act 2017 was informed by the feedback received through an extensive consultation process; 3) The Government is satisfied that the project proposed by MWCC is financially viable and importantly, will not require Government support; 4) Furthermore, assessment and ultimate approval of this, or any cable car project will be under the auspices of the Hobart City Council.

This pro-forma letter that didn’t address any of the writers concerns or questions was another insult to an already aggrieved community.

The Government has consulted with the community three times about the Mount Wellington Cableway Company’s (MWCC) proposed development but has chosen to ignore the majority feedback that it has received from the community each time. During these three consultation processes the community has made it abundantly clear that it does not want a cable car development over the Organ Pipes and it does not want a commercial development on the summit of the Mountain.

In 2012, 89% of submissions opposed the Cable Car

In 2012 the Wellington Park Management Trust (the Trust) received 264 representations from the community, individuals, groups, councils and agencies in response to the plan. Of the 264 representations received, 226 raised the issue of a cable car and of those 226, 201 opposed a cable car with 25 in support.

Many of the representors opposing a cable car considered that it should be ‘prohibited’ in the Wellington Park Management Plan, and not subject to any assessment. The majority of representors also opposed major commercial development at The Pinnacle. While 89% of the representations made to the WPMT were opposed to the cable car the Trust chose to change the Wellington Park Management Plan to allow for a cable car.

In 2015, 61% of submissions opposed Amendment to Pinnacle Area

In 2015 the MWCC made a request to the Trust to increase the development zone on Mt Wellington’s summit. The Trust invited the public to comment on the Amendment to the Pinnacle Specific Area and received 551 representations. 334 or 60.6% were opposed to the amendment. On 4 November 2015 the Trust increased the development zone as requested. The independent Tasmanian Planning Commission found that the Trust ignored the bulk of representations. Despite this assessment, the Trust approved the amendment to facilitate the cable car project, contrary to the views expressed by the majority of representors.

In 2017, 70% of submissions opposed the Cable Car, 80% opposed the proposed legislation; and 93% were critical of this legislation

In 2017 The Tasmanian State Government prepared draft legislation to facilitate the assessment of a cable car proposal on kunanyi/Mount Wellington in Wellington Park and requested feedback on the draft Bill. The majority of the 725 submissions that addressed the proposed cable car were opposed to the proposed cable car (505 or 70%). Of the 501 submissions that addressed the draft Bill the overwhelming majority opposed the proposed legislation (399 or 80%).

While many submissions did not address specific details of the draft Bill, the vast majority of the 279 that did were critical of the proposed legislation (259 or 93%). A large number of the submissions that clearly addressed specific details of the legislation raised concerns about abuse of process or lack of process, and a large number of the submissions that addressed the draft legislation did not propose changes, they simply recommended that the draft Bill be abandoned.

 Over a period of six years the MWCC and the State Liberal Government have not listened to the community regarding the proposed Cable Car

In addition to the abundantly clear message sent to the Government during these three consultation processes that the community does not want a cable car development over the Organ Pipes and does not want a commercial development on the summit of the Mountain, in May this year over 5,000 people gathered in Cascade Gardens in South Hobart to demonstrate their opposition to the MWCC’s proposal to build a cable car development on kunanyi/Mount Wellington.

Instead of listening to community feedback over the past six years, the MWCC still plans to build a cable car over the Organ Pipes and the company has chosen to label a critical mass of people representing a broad cross section of Hobart’s community as ‘protesters, naysayers, greenies, extremists, selfish do-gooders, corporate terrorists and a minority’. The company has not listened to the community and has dismissed the community’s many legitimate concerns about a single development as ‘anti-everything’ and ‘anti-capitalism’ in a concerted attempt to mislead and divide the community.

Mr Guwein’s recent letter stating that the Government is of the view that there is ‘wide community support’ for the cable car development on kunanyi/Mt Wellington shows that the State Liberal Government continues to ignore the community and has instead accepted the misleading rhetoric of the MWCC.

Mr Gutwein’s statement that the Cable Car Facilitation Act 2017 was informed by feedback from the community is bewildering when the Government ignored 80% of the submissions that were opposed to the legislation and many of the 93% of the submissions that were critical of the legislation recommended that the bill simply be abandoned.

When the Government has already introduced legislation that gives rights and privileges to the MWCC that are not available to anybody else and that enables the State Government to compulsorily acquire public park land on behalf of the MWCC, Mr Gutwein’s statement that the development ‘will not require Government support’ is ludicrous.

Curiously, on the same day that Mr Gutwein wrote his letter to members of the community who have voiced concerns about MWCC’s proposed cable car development, a piece by Matt Malone was published in The Examiner stating that Planning Minister Roger Jaensch plans to introduce major projects legislation in Parliament next year.

Will the Government allow the cable car project to be assessed and approved by the Hobart City Council as Mr Gutwein states in his letter, or will the State Government again intervene to further enable this divisive development that is clearly unwanted by a significant portion of the community?

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Dr Geoff Holloway was State Secretary of the United Tasmania Group (UTG) 1974-77 and again since revival of UTG two years ago. Geoff has a PhD (sociology), specialising in social movements, health and research methods; poet (4 books published); climber; traveller – two years in Chilean & Argentinean Patagonia, but also Colombia, Ecuador and Brasil, twice recently to Cabo Verde and Lisbon, fluent in Spanish, understands written Portuguese; focus over past 20 years on children with disabilities, child protection and youth justice issues.

Ben Jones has lived in Hobart for eighteen years and is a member of Residents Opposed to the Cable Car and Respect the Mountain. He is a geologist and has over 25 years’ experience working with culturally diverse groups of people in cities and remote regions around the world.