The cable car issue, pundit Kevin Bonham says, appears to have drawn more Hobartians to vote that ever before.
And looking at the ballots, it is clear that there was a strong—indeed a majority—anti-cable car vote. A clear majority of voters voted against the cable car.
The more practical question is, did the ballot translate into anti cable-car aldermen?
In particular, did the seven Councillors who voted to ban the MWCC from using Council land, “commit electoral suicide”, as slavishly predicted by the MWCC, ? Did, as hoped, pro-cable-car candidates somehow sweep to power?
As two aldermen who voted “Yes”, Cocker and Ruzika, did not re-contest, it is not strictly possible to assess the “suicide” scenario.
Of the 4 who voted “No”: all four were re-elected. Former mayor, Thomas, deputy mayor, Sexton, the implacable and ebullient Alderman Zucco, and the engineer with the glint in her eye for cables and towers, Alderman Denison. On top, newly elected, was a passionate advocate and prominent activist for the cable car, Simon Betharkis. A young man guided and advised by a powerful patron, Senator Eric Abetz, but no doubt Betharkis, now vaunted into power, is his own man.
With Betharkis might make 5. An increase of one vote apparently in favour of a cable car. Both (former) Mayor Christie and Kevin Bonham have argued that the pro-cable car votes on Council increased.
This is probably correct, but, crucially, five is not a majority. Six is not a majority. Any attempt to produce a new position on the cable car requires seven votes and it appears that it is only the anti-cable car view that can muster them. It all depends on the motion. But here is the way the wind is blowing.
What of the standing candidates who voted Yes to banning the cable car on Council land?
Briscoe-who put the in/famous motion received one of his highest votes. The woman who chaired the Parks committee and who actually proposed the motion be put and then put it: Anna Reynolds, the former Green, stood for Mayor and rode to the top job on protecting the mountain. Polls had her neck in neck with Thomas, but in the count, she swept him and every other mayoral opponents aside within hours.
The official Greens Harvey and Burnett were both returned, both with quotas that they could distribute. Burnett was elected Deputy Mayor.
The last-minute dissenter (but whose vote was overwhelming) was Mayor Christie: he lost his seat, but for very different reasons.
The person who never expressed a view on the actual proposition, keeping his powder dry, perhaps, was the Deputy Lord Mayor, Sexton. For fence-sitting, he lost his position as Deputy Mayor, and was only re-elected as an alderman on the last day of the count. He scraped in on deep preference cut ups.
Who got the other seats? A wild streak of a woman who wore to the Ceremonial Council a white t-shirt she stencilled herself proclaiming: “people and planet (heart) before profit”: Holly Ewen. Also elected: a lawyer/priest with a snow white beard of Gandalfian length named Mike Dutta, who wrote at the head of his official candidate statement a clause to the effect: “Down with the cable car” and also his daughter, she too has expressed grave doubts over the cable car.
The test will be if any one seeks to have the Council cable car ban decision reviewed, modified or repealed. No one, not Christie nor Bonham sees seven votes. I see only four.