A Mount Wellington Cable Car Company (MWCC) public meeting for ‘South Hobart residents only’ has been suddenly cancelled despite significant local resident interest and the imminent closure of public consultation on the Hodgman Government’s proposed Major Projects legislation.
The meeting, couched by the MWCC as ‘a presentation on what we are proposing for the mountain. Tell us your thoughts and ask any questions…’ has been cancelled, with one-on-one meetings proposed as an alternative by the MWCC. The invitation described the Cable Car project as a ‘Major Project for Wellington Park’ (emphasis added) fuelling speculation the Major Projects legislation is specifically written for the Cable Car and similar projects that seek assessment outside of the normal planning process.
Government has already passed special legislation to facilitate this project.
“The cancellation of this meeting is dodgy," said Sophie Underwood, spokesperson for the Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania.
"With an election imminent, Major Projects legislation out for public comment and high levels of public opposition to the cable car proposal, this looks like a strategic backtrack for the proponents who are banking on special legislation to take it out of local planning processes.
"Given the wholescale concern with this proposal, consultation amongst South Hobart residents alone is a narrow-minded way to approach community engagement, but even this has been cancelled for a ‘divide and conquer’ approach.
"The cable car proponents themselves describe the proposal as a ‘Major Project’, seemingly pitching it for assessment by the Government, as opposed to local council, under the proposed ‘Major Projects’ legislation.
Consultation over the Major Projects legislation closes on Monday 29th January, with many submissions expected to question the extraordinary powers the legislation gives to government to ‘call in’ and approve projects like the cable car and Fragrance high rise hotels, despite significant local concern and inconsistently with normal planning processes.
"The Hodgman Government’s Major Projects powers subverts proper planning process and reduces community capacity to participate in development approvals and there is no opportunity for appeals’ said Ms Underwood.
"It’s looking more and more likely that this legislation is written specifically to give projects like the cable car a leg up in the assessment process.’
"Government has already passed extraordinary legislation to compulsorily acquire the summit of kunanyi/Mt Wellington for the cable car. We’re now looking as special legislation to get it approved.