Cable car scandal a case in point – Tasmania needs robust planning laws

Revelations the Hodgman government secretly approved an ‘Authority’ for the Mt Wellington Cable Car Company to enter protected land on the summit of kunanyi/Mt Wellington to begin drilling as part of the controversial cable car project, just days before the Tasmanian state election was called, highlights the lack of proper process and need for robust planning laws.
 
Special legislation passed state Parliament last year to circumvent proper process and give the cable car project an unfair leg-up to the detriment of the community. It allows the Tasmanian Government, as opposed to the Hobart City Council, to give landowner consent and approvals to carry out works. 

“This approval, issued on the eve of a state election where planning laws, accountability and probity are important issues, highlights the danger of giving ministerial power to approve actions relating to developments,” said Sophie Underwood, convenor of the Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania (PMAT), a coalition of 58 community groups concerned with planning issues. 

“Here, a secret ministerial approval is issued with no public announcement and no consultation, for a highly controversial project proposed to be built on one of Tasmania’s most loved, sensitive and protected landmarks. 

“This looks like a quick and dirty deal, signed off just before an election so that it avoids the scrutiny and transparency it deserves and gets in before a potential change of government. 

“Without strong planning laws that enshrine public participation and robust rights of appeal, we’ll always have governments putting the interests of developers ahead of the community.” 

The Tasmanian Planning Scheme and the proposed major projects legislation will put more power into the hands of the minister, create more exemptions, and reduce the role of local councils and the public in planning decisions. 

We can expect to see more decisions made without public consultation, without consideration of the complex range of social, cultural and environmental impacts, and without opportunities to appeal.