The MWCC claims that Wellington Park is woefully underfunded but its cable car can transform this. How? It will reduce traffic on the road and hence reduce wear-and-tear, thus saving the Hobart City Council money. The MWCC also claimed that its Community Foundation is going to give money toward the upkeep and improvement of Wellington Park, and that it will build Ranger Stations in both the Base Station and the Pinnacle Centre. One of the “fundamental building blocks of the proposal” is “Give Back: i.e Value-add to the ongoing management and preservation of Wellington Park.” Emboldened, in its Official Details booklet, the company then offered much much more. It “offers to switch the funding model” for the mountain:

“For over a century, every local has subsidized the access for tourists and paid for park upkeep through their rates and taxes. MWCC offers to switch the funding model, by charging willing tourists and givings [sic] locals some reprieve.”

“Tasmania has a golden opportunity to achieve a true [sic] sustainable future for the mountain, a solution built on balancing … economic development and social responsibility. The solution is the Mount Wellington Cableway Company.”

This is the kind of hubris the Hydro Electric Commission once proffered. 

The existing “funding model” for the mountain is public. Taxation, principally council rates, pays for the Mountain’s upkeep. The “switch”, presumably, implies private funding—what else could it mean? 

How much money is required to make the switch? Tally: Hobart and Glenorchy Council Works funding, monitoring, staff, TasWater staff and upkeep, Tourism, Roads, Friends of the Park volunteer hours, WPMT, Parks and Wildlife: its tens of millions—but you can bet the MWCC has no idea either, has made no calculations and its real intention is an entirely different switch. No factoring of it appears in the company’s own Economic Benefits analysis. The very fact that the entire “switch” is offered—without a single detail—in a single sentence suggests it is a throw-away line.

One throw-away line deserves another: what will the MWCC do about tourists unwilling to make the switch? Throw them out the window, that their blood and guts may enrich the earth?

No. We should throw the MWCC claim away. Its offer is not genuine.

But Respect the Mountain, noting the several offers and inducements of free money and resources to the very body that is tasked with assessing its proposal, asks the difficult questions: “Who thinks that private developers suggesting to fund the very agency that is supposed to issue them a permit is a problem? Have the developers and the Wellington Park Trust ever discussed potential funding arrangements?

The Mountain Preservation Society has quizzed the WPMT’s manager on this question and the Trust confirmed that no offer from the MWCC to switch anything, let lone pay them money (or give them office space), has been received. We wonder about offers directly to the Hobart City Council or Parks and Wildlife. We think them highly unlikely, but open offers of money to those whose favour you seek... what’s that?