Image for Mt Wellington: Key Points raised from Public Forum on Feb 26th

Unanimous support from panel and the room for development at The Springs such as the current proposal with approval.

Unopposed support for introduction of indigenous tourism on kunanyi/Mt Wellington.

Strong feeling that the whole of Mt. Wellington needs to be promoted to tourists. Not just one specific area such as the summit.

Development on Mt. Wellington needs to be suitable for not just tourists, but Tasmanians as well.

Strong support for the removal of one or both towers from the mountain’s skyline. Green’s announced $100,000 to be invested in exploring alternatives to the towers.

A call was made to the floor as to what would be appropriate development on the summit. After a few moments silence, the notion was raised from the floor why there needed to be development.

The comment was raised more than once about the lack of representatives from the Liberal Party to hear their opinion. Felt it lacked transparency.

Fear of large numbers ‘overwhelming’ the summits fragile environment.

Concern from a few parties about talk that a cable car could fly over the Organ Pipes.

Regarding access to summit, the panel felt that people just need accept that some days of the year, you can’t get to the top of the mountain and instead of looking at what we can’t access, we should be enjoying the areas we can access. Days the summit isn’t accessible by road, it’s just not safe.

Summary of Alternatives to a Cable Car on Mt. Wellington (kunanyi)

On Wednesday 26th February 2014 at 12:30pm in Hobart Town Hall, Scott Bacon [SB] (Labor), Cassy O’Connor [CO’C] (Greens), Geoff Law [GL] (Conservationist), Ruth Langford [RL] from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and Wolfgang Glowacki [WG] (Fern Tree resident and Nature photographer with a soon-to-be-released book on Mt. Wellington) spoke at a Public Forum Q&A. An invitation was also sent to Elise Archer (Liberal) who initially accepted but later declined to attend. We also attempted to get a representative from the Hobart Shuttle Bus Co to speak as a tourism operator on the mountain but they regretfully had to decline days before due to the busy nature of taking cruise ships passengers up Mt. Wellington that day. Luke Martin from the TICT asked to have a representative on the panel (however he denied that they would be a TICT representative). At last contact, Mr. Martin was due to respond to the organiser, Mr. Turvey, once he had found a suitable speaker. No further contact was heard from Mr. Martin.

149 members of the public were counted on the day and in the interests of transparent process and access to all, the event was recorded and is available online at the following address and via the Respect The Mountain - No Cable Car Facebook page.

The ‘MC’ for the day was Margaret Steadman [MS].

Q.1 “What is you long-term vision for Mt. Wellington and can you identify the one thing you most want to stay the same and the one thing that should change?”

GL - Speaking as a conservationist/individual, not representing any group today. Mt. Wellington is more than a familiar shape on skyline, it’s a living entity. He takes VIP’s to the Octopus Tree and other places on the mountain. Would like to see less infrastructure on the summit. When the transmission tower was built in the late 1990’s, it was on the understanding that the one behind it be removed. With advances in technology, we should be looking to see consolidate the infrastructure around the one tower. Would like to see the profile of the observatory shelter smoothed out. Organ Pipes are impressive enough from the city of Hobart. Awe-inspiring up close and must not be defaced by the scouring excavation, concrete, steel and glass that would be part of the cable car development.

SB - Representing the Labour Party. There needs to be more open debates about different and sensitive issues and less personal attacks and intimidation as has been the case previously in Tasmania. Labour supports carefully assessed and sustainable commercial development opportunities on Mt. Wellington. Long term vision is for greater diversity of visitor experiences both for Tasmanian and tourists available on the mountain. Currently there are 75 different private business operators that are licensed to operate on the mountain.

Great that there are so many businesses and believes that there can be many more. The mountain can be more of a drawcard than it already is but will require continued investment infrastructure both of a public nature and of a private nature. That’s why the Government has been working towards a new Wellington Park Management Plan providing a contemporary planning framework to facilitate both small-scale and larger-scale public and private development. Can include additional investment in mountain bike and walking tracks, the development at The Springs and related facilities at the pinnacle. Labour’s view is that the new management plan provides a planning apparatus for development on the mountain. They want to see any proponent that wants to do anything on the mountain have that assessed through the system and then the community of Hobart and the community of Tasmania can have their say on what they want to see for the mountain. They’d like to see more things going on on the mountain. You have to look at the whole mountain, not just individual aspect of it. Want to make sure they can activate the whole mountain, not just for tourist but particularly for Tasmanians, who all love Mt. Wellington. The imposing view of the mountain available from all over Hobart is something preferred not to change. Certainly any application would be met by community concerns about affecting those views. Do want to see more activity on the mountain and if it’s from a commercial view, not necessarily a bad thing.

CO’C - Acknowledge the Palawa people’s deep connection to Kunanyi. Many non-aboriginal’s have a deep connection to the mountain and they stand with the Palawa in fighting to protect Kunanyi, the way it is. Try to imagine Hobart without the mountain. Quaint but ultimately bland place it would be without the awesome profile of the Organ Pipes.

Greens position is if they’re in any position after March 15 [election] to influence the state budget, they’ll make sure $100,000 is invested in exploring alternatives for the towers on top of the mountain. Absolute blight on the mountain. Destroy the profile of the mountain. In this day of high speed technologies, there must be alternatives. That would be their primary thing to change. They don’t want to see a cable car. The arrogance of Mr. Bold who recently confessed that the cable car would cut across the Organ Pipes, really is quite mind-numbing and confrontational. Vision for the mountain is a mountain without the towers, accessible and enjoyable to all, a place that is respected for it’s deep spiritual story, the love that the people of Tasmania have for it. The fact that it draws people from all over the world - about 200,000 people went up it last year. Look after the mountain, respect it, leave it alone, maintain the road, maintain the walking and biking tracks and get rid of the towers.

WG - Speaking as a Member of the public. Lives on the mountain. Spend a lot of time walking, photographing on the mountain. His ‘backyard’ one of his favourite places. Very diverse in it’s landscape from the alpine regions down to its forest creatures. Shares his property with animals that come off the mountain. Platypus in his creek, quolls, devils and other animals. An amazing place to live. Also on drive home up the mountain, uses it as a weather forecaster, see what the clouds are doing and what the weather might be tomorrow. Believes that for most people, the mountain is an icon, always there. It’s a solid rock in the foundations of Hobart. Wouldn’t like to see that view change.  Stay the same, the skyline. In saying that, the infrastructure on Mt. Wellington, especially lower down at The Springs near the site of the old hotel or new toilet facilities other things like that. If done tastefully, really help enhance visitors experience with the mountain, because it’s pretty bland to drive all the way to the top, and turn around 5mins later. Could be a lot more interaction with visitors and if it’s done tastefully, can’t see why it couldn’t happen.

RL - Thanks to Margaret and Cassy for their acknowledgement. Pay her respects to Sheldon and Lynton (present in audience) who are traditional owners and cultural custodians for their people. Members of the Palawa community. Stories and knowledge of kunanyi are known by indigenous people all over the nation, such is her importance.

Likens Mt. Wellington to a favourite grandmother or aunty and the respect and love that is felt to someone like that. For indigenous people, kunanyi, is a creative, living being that deserves respect and acknowledgement. Would like to see the maintaining of that respect and tradition.

In regards to the change on kunanyi, would like to hope that we can start to focus our vision and energies on how we can pay respectful acknowledgement to what she provides, not only for Hobartians or the whole aboriginal community in Tasmania, but she’s a significant creation being for this planet. Hope is that we can gather the support for indigenous peoples to work collaboratively with all sorts of people who love the mountain and so they can further share her story, gain her wisdom and knowledge.

Q. 2 “The Springs development submitted by Ali Sultan, not only has a permit but is consistent with the Hobart City Council’s policy that The Springs should be the main visitor and commercial hub. Do you support a development at The Springs such as the one already proposed?

WG - Yes there is room for a visitor or interpretation centre. Already has been infrastructure, area is still cleared, as long as done sustainable, ecological and fits in with the mountain and done with community consultation.

CO’C - Acknowledges that Robert Morris-Nunn [architect of current approved proposal at The Springs] is in the room. The Greens have been long and strong supporters of The Springs Development. Warmly welcome the Labour Gov’t contribution of $500,000 towards the public infrastructure. That work needs to start in order for Ali Sultans permit to continue. A fantastic site and the most appropriate site for visitor infrastructure on the mountain. Warmer, accessible and beautiful view.

SB - Support development on the mountain and a strong supporter of The Springs which is why the Labour Gov’t has provided the $500,000 for public infrastructure. Long over due and a fantastic facility for the people of Hobart.

RL - Struggles with the concept of what is sustainable development as it’s bantered around quite a lot. For TAC it is important to share the story and they have people that would like to share that story in adventure tourism, and that they respect that having a visitor centre at The Springs would be beneficial - certainly nothing above The Springs. Hopes that with collaboration, that communities are well consulted and that their community is actually included in the process of being able to access and share their stories.

GL - Tourism development have come and gone at The Springs. More forgiving site when it comes to the experiences of tourists. Lower down is more comparatively sheltered than the blizzard prone summit where on many days lucky to even stand up. The previous developments have left their mark in the form of foundations or in one case, a garden. The Springs is the obvious place for upgraded tourist facilities in the form of toilets and a visitor centre. If commercial development is a part of that, so be it, if it doesn’t happen, he doesn’t mind. If there is to be another chapter in the development of The Springs added to all of those that have previously gone forward, so be it.

Q. 3 “What do you consider appropriate development above The Springs?”

SB - Support sustainable development across the entire mountain. Important to look at the mountain as a whole. Mentions that with the new development plan that came into effect on Jan 1st 2014, proposals can now be accepted. Prior to that there were no proposals because there couldn’t be. Now proponents need to put forward detailed proposal so it can be looked at and a final position can be attained based on the proposal. No vision as to what the future could look like as no proponent has come forward with a detailed plan.

CO’C - Sad that other member for Denison, Elise Archer, pulled out of the forum. Liberals view of development is quite startlingly different of everyone else on the panel. The first piece of successful Liberal legislation in parliament in 16 years was Elise’s bill to remove the veto powers of the Wellington Park [Management] Trust. Was ultimately successful with Labours support. As for development on the summit, there is already a concrete footprint there. It is possible that we could have some discussions about what would be acceptable to the wider community. Have to be careful about scale and the beautiful profile. Need to be entire sensitive the aesthetic and natural values. Has been talk of coffee shop, might be viable for 150 days a years, suspect it’s a conversation that will come up time and time again. Best development on the summit of Mt. Wellington is taking the towers off.

Questions now opened to the floor.

Lady 1: Mentioned that Mt. Wellington supplies 25% of Hobart’s water supply, 100% of Fern Tree’s water supply and 100% of Kingborough’s water supply and if you start ‘stuffing around’ on top of the mountain it all ends up in the water supply. If you start stuffing around at The Springs, it ends up in the water supply. Does nobody take common licence of that?

CO’C - Yes, everyone on the panel acknowledges the role Mt. Wellington plays in Hobart’s water supply. Today we are addressing specific topics of development on Mt. Wellington. Believes it is possible to create very complex and complete water cycling systems. Composting toilets and grey-water cycling are good examples of such systems but also take on board the point being made that without the mountain in good health, then our health would be compromised.

MS - Call made to the floor for what would be appropriate development on the summit.

Lady 2: Just the pure concept of developing the mountain is a paradigm so far out of what we could be talking about. How about we start talking about how the mountain can develop us. One of the qualities of kunanyi is her wildness and ordinariness. We have a lot to learn about it. Just the concept of making money out of it and developing it and growing it so we can use makes her want to cry and scream.

RL - Thanks for making that really significant point about the push for development at what cost? At our own humanity and our own potential within our social cohesion and our ability to care for each other. Concerned at both the Labour and Liberal’s suggestion that they will not only extend and start having development in the World Heritage Area, also in kunanyi also concerned about it. Far better to have those areas, placed outside those areas we call ‘wildness’ so then people can have that experience of connecting to that part of ourself which inspires us and gives us the capacity to connect with one each other and within that greater scope of what land and country can offer us

Lady 3: Thanks Cassy for her suggestion to remove the tower from the summit. Would also like to see the viewing platforms removed or reduced from the skyline. Asked the panel to revisit concern about development above The Springs. Feels that development above The Springs will detract from the experience. Concerned that, under the current planning scheme, if applications are continuously put in, that it would ‘wear down the committee’ [sic] and they would feel they need to let something go ahead. Believes that development above The Springs should be a ‘no’ and shuttle buses go up from The Springs to take people up to experience what it’s like on top of the mountain.

MS - Invites panel to talk about the road and access to the summit. Do they have any suggestions, other than a cable car, on how access to the summit could be achieved.

CO’C - We have a road. Widely used. Need to accept that some days of the year, you can’t get to the top of the mountain. (applause) Also room for electric buses charged from Fern Tree with viewing windows, 4WD tyres for the slightly tricky days.

RL - Loves when the road is closed. Goes to The Springs with her kids. No wind to knock them over. Just play in the snow. Why aren’t we saying ‘Yay, look what we can do down here’, rather than saying ‘Oh, we can’t do that.’ Perspective should be to look at what we can do.

Gentleman 1: Development doesn’t have to be infrastructure, it can also be events. Would like opinion of the panel on events such as Point To Pinnacle, and whether they’re considered respectful as well as what other scope there may be for other kinds of events that may involve Mt. Wellington.

RL - Thank you. Key issue. How can we start to access and be a in relationship with the mountain in a communal sense. How can we gather under and on the mountain in a festive celebration styles. And to increase the events that are there. There is the opportunity to increase ability business enterprises taking people up onto the mountain in a respectful way. Small scale. Absolutely small scale. Intimacy is what she offers. Mountain Festival is a great festival. Lots of opportunity for small scale intimate experiences.

Gentleman 2: Spends a lot of time on the mountain and quite often has times when he would like a coffee shop or a beer but acknowledges that it’s a nonsense and not viable and that he can do without it. No way a coffee shop would be viable on the top. Not 150 days a year it might be viable [reference to earlier comment made by CO’C] in terms of turning over a profit - it might be 50 days! Any commercial development is a nonsense. We have a road. People talk about should it be wider/bigger? Mr. Bold says it’s dangerous. In 35 years of going up the mountain, about once a week every year on average, there’s never been any accident. Doesn’t know of anyone ever dying in a car crash. Doesn’t even know of a car crash on that mountain. Not a dangerous road, in fact a safe road, because of the way it’s built.

WG - Does too spend a bit of time on the mountain and has actually seen quite a lot of accidents and it’s usually when under-prepared people are driving in icy conditions. They’re alright going up, but it goes pear shaped coming down. Has seen probably 5 or 6 accidents. Also sees a bit of vandalism on cars on the mountain, which is another issue.

Lady 4: Mentioned her concern about the huge numbers of people going to the summit and potentially overwhelming the mountain.

Gentleman 3: Talked about having a Management Plan for the mountain, wondered if it was specified in that plan very clearly what we don’t want developed on the mountain so that if people come along with hair-brained ideas, that it won’t even be looked at and we can stop having to constantly fight these battles off every couple of years when they keep on resurrecting these things. The cable car idea has been going on for nearly 20yrs. (applause)

MS - Asks SB if the Management Plan actually exclude certain developments as well as permit?

SB - Yes it can, but from his point of view, thinks it’s a good thing. Now that someone who wants to come forward with a cable car proposition needs to provide detail around how that’s going to work, it’ll then have to be consulted with the community and people can have their say, about whether or not it actually goes ahead. The opportunity there is now in place for someone to come forward with a very detailed plan about what they want to go forward, it’ll be a transparent process and then people can have their say. From his point of view, that’s a step forward because we don’t have these conflicting things where people say we want to do these things but are stopped from doing it. Now there is a planning process in place so people can come along, put their detailed plan on the table, in a transparent way, and people can have their say.

CO’C - The Wellington Park plan is actually finalised and was released last year and it’s got a significant change in it. Whereas the previous plan from 2005 almost specifically prohibited such things as a cable car, there are provision in the new plan that allow the Trust to look at that sort of development. It comes under the framework of accessibility, so there is a slight problem with the new Wellington Park plan.

Gentleman 4: Has a logistical question in relation to transparency that Scott talked about. He knows Scotts views, Cassy’s views, Madeline Ogilvie’s views and the other Green’s candidates views but doesn’t know what the Liberals are going to do and quite frankly, why did they pull out of this forum? Is it because they want to have the freedom to be able to go straight to the election day and not have to tell you what they’re going to do or is there some reason like someone fell sick or whatever. It’s critical that if you’re going to have transparency, that all the political parties be here to be on record because transparency will only happen when all of the public is energised, knows what’s going on and knows what the various viewpoints are all about.

MS - Agrees it would’ve been nice to have all the parties here and suggested that the gentleman contact Elise’s office if he wants to find out why she pulled out.

Gentleman 5: Question to SB. His understanding is that the current proposal being promoted for the cable car involves the cable car going across the face of the Organ Pipes. Adrian Bold told a meeting in Lenah Valley at the start of last year that that was what he saw as one of its unique selling propositions, it had to have that as a ‘wow factor’ for tourists. What he’s [SB] said is that he’s open to all propositions. Is that one that he’s prepared to entertain?

SB - It’s not his job to sit here and say if Adrian’s proposal comes forward with ‘this, this or this’ [SIC] then it shouldn’t get any support. He thinks what we need… (interrupted by audience member asking what his view is) His position is the way to approach this is to put a management plan in place, which is what’s happened.  Refers to debate about Pulp Mill. Some people were neither here nor there about the issue but their support went out the window when it was taken out of the system. His point of view is they want a transparent system in place, then they want a detailed proposition, then the people of Tasmania can have their say. As there is no detail about an application, no point arguing about what he will or won’t support. What they have is a management plan in place so now this proposal can be looked at. They can bring it forward and then we’ll look at it.

MS - Reminds audience that we’re talking about alternatives that may happen so to keep that focus of what the alternatives might be.

RL - Concern with management plans and processes for approval that ultimately, the buck stops with the minister. Even if the Aboriginal Community do aboriginal assessments and they say that it’s absolutely no-go, there is no mechanism in our government to give any power to community groups to say no. It can be ‘some mate with his mate’ who says ‘ok, we’re going to approve this process’. It’s deeply disturbing. Need to make sure that agencies and statutory bodies have enough power and independence and run by community and not just somebody who wants to give it a tick. (applause)

GL - With regard to transparent process, as brought up by Scott Bacon, that if the issue of a cable car becomes a ‘political football’ that there won’t be a transparent process. That’s what’s happened before. Removing the prohibition of a cable car from the management plan was a disaster. Very likely to see a future government try to ram [a cable car] through parliament exactly the same way they did with the Pulp Mill. (applause)

Lady 5 (Madeline Ogilvie): Refers to her public call for no toll on the road. Called Adrian Bold and still doesn’t have a response. He just waffles around. She comes from a business background. Knows the only way a cable car business plan stacks up is if they move people from the road to a cable car. That is her personal view. Allowed in the Labour Party to hold a personal view. But she endorses, and also her grandfather who built the road (Albert Ogilvie) would endorse, Scotts investment in what it would take to get The Springs development going. It’s about toilets, amenities, and making sure that the group that we give the franchise to for coffee on the mountain are the right people. Her view is no toll on the road, it’s our people’s mountain. She doesn’t like the cable car. Like’s Cassy’s idea with electric buses. She would like a funicular. Thinks Robert’s [Morris-Nunn] design is superb.

Lady 6: How does the panel feel, that if the cable car does go ahead, that the Hobart City Council hold a ‘bond’ it get rid of it if it’s not finically active?

GL - Good idea in principle, but feels that any development above The Springs would produce such a scar that no quantity of bond money would be capable of rectifying. Good idea to smaller scale developments, no - because it’s simply no cable car.

Gentleman 6 (Rob Valentine MLC): Question to all candidates in room. How would they see the mountain be developed in a passive way. Not physical infrastructure. Say, for example, that there is already a development at The Springs. How we might actually see the mountain used more actively by individuals. What are ideas and visions on how we can see the mountain used more actively without the denigration of it? Wants to hear some ideas.

MS - Felt that that was almost the topic for another meeting.

CO’C - Acknowledged that Rob Valentine was the only member of the Upper House who voted against the veto power bill put forward by Elise Archer. Could improve the walking accessibility with the maintenance of the tracks and probably [install] rails there for people with mobility issues. Mountain is like a canvas work of art and that different areas could be highlighted and made accessible to more people with co-operation to the original owners.

SB - Highlighted that there is a market for indigenous tourism. At Australian Tourism Awards, whilst being Tourism Minister, Tasmania has been represented in 27 of the 28 categories and it’s a huge shame for our state that we never have any representation in the indigenous tourism category. Acknowledges that there are proposals at the moment about indigenous tour operators could operate on Mt. Wellington. A good option that doesn’t necessarily have to require any infrastructure and it should be pushed in the future.

RL - A variety of aboriginal people who would like to be able to share their story but will not be able to do that if their mountain is horrifically scarred. Development below the summit is an opportunity for so many people, if we have a cable car, we have an elite few. (applause)

Lady 7: Who is Adrian Bold? Is he a millionaire? Is he a member of parliament?

MS - Defers answer to Jason Turvey

JT - Adrian is someone who’s grown up in Tasmania. Someone he personally know incredibly well. Shared a similar background throughout school up until year 10. Someone he knows quite intimately. Prefer to keep personal difference aside given our history of knowing each other and being quite good friends in that time.

MS - Refers audience member to Google. Wraps up Q & A session.