Mountain Journal has been covering the long campaign against a planned cable car up the face of Mt Wellington/ kunanyi, in Hobart. In alarming news, the ABC is reporting that Tasmania’s State Growth Minister quietly gave the Mount Wellington Cable Car Company permission to start drilling and surveying on the mountain just days before the state election was called.

The ABC reports:

‘According to a Hobart City Council memo, it allows the company to:

  • Survey flora and fauna and geotechnical investigations (including drilling bore holes) at three locations (rig and water tank to be transported by helicopter).
  • Construct temporary scaffolds at a site on The Pinnacle.
  • Operate a battery-powered drone in a corridor from The Pinnacle to the lower slopes of the Mountain.

The authority itself was signed by Mr Gutwein on January 25, just before the election was called on January 28”.

In a remarkable development, Premier Will Hodgman said he was unaware of the matter when questioned at a press conference in Launceston.

“I’d need to take advice as to that, I am not aware of that matter,” he said. How can a minister responsible for such a controversial project not inform the leader of the state of his decision to allow these works? Given the high level of community opposition to the project, this move can only be seen as an attempt to get things moving before the government goes into caretaker mode.

The ABC report says:

Local group Residents Opposed to the Cable Car spokesman Ted Cutland said the Government had expressed overt support for the cable car proposal. “In all of this, the community has not had a say.”

The Hobart City Council memo also noted:

“It is highly likely that activities will impact on both visitor access and the operation of the City’s works crews.

“The Authority is silent on any requirement to survey for cultural/Aboriginal heritage and does not require any consultation with the Aboriginal community.”

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre’s Heather Sculthorpe said the Treasurer’s actions were a “slap in the face”.

“This government knows the Aboriginal community is against the cable car and they just continue to act in defiance of aboriginal community wishes,” she said.

“It’s an absolute disgrace and shows such a lack of moral integrity.”

UPDATE FEB 16, 2018

The following information comes from the residents group Respect the Mountain – No Cable Car:

What level of detail did Minister Peter Gutwein require in order to issue a permit for drilling works on the face of kunanyi / Mt Wellington? Arguably one of Tasmania’s most iconic sites. The answer is nothing more than a simple map with drilling locations marked by hand with a texta. We are not making this up.

This is the only plan attached to the permit granted to the Mt Wellington Cable Way Company and fully supported by the Wellington Park Management Trust, all signed off on the last working day of the Government. Is that what the Government means when they talk about a more efficient planning system? A 3 year old could complete an application for works and have it all signed off by the Minister.