LIP SERVICE to INDIGENOUS tasmania
The Mount Wellington Cableway Company uses the pallawa-kani work for the mountain, kunanyi, and claims to have attempted to consult with the indigenous community about their proposal, but the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre categorically rejects this claim and the scheme behind it. The MWCC alienated the pallawa people with offensive pronouncements and a selfish name-grab, then privately denigrated them when they complained.
The Mount Wellington cable car company's attitude to the mountain is utterly materialist and its treatment of the mountain’s custodians is shameful.
The MWCC never added an indigeneous dimension to its Key Social Indicators. It did not consult with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre. Meanwhile, in 2013 the MWCC's chief backer, the company Riser + Gain, bought the internet domain name kunyani.com and 11 other kunanyi-related domain names. This is the kunyani.com scandal. When the cyber-squatting was discovered, the company's CEO Adrian Bold sneered, saying that the internet belonged to nobody and it is first in, best dressed.
Stung by the ensuing criticism, the MWCC claimed “We have begun collaborative work with various indigenous elders and stakeholder groups to ensure this unique heritage is properly interpreted”, but no names are given. It then added a Testimonial to the footer of its site from one L.Daniels, saying “I am an Aboriginal Tasmanian who has happily lived 14 years of my life in Hobart. I want to see more developments which respectfully showcase this beautiful place and I think the cable car is a fabulous idea.” The Mountain Preservation Society is sceptical. The MWCC quotes (without attribution) Professor Lefroy of UTAS, arguing that the cable car has environmental benefits, but does not quote his conclusion that the MWCC’s failure to consult with the aboriginal community was a fatal, and irredeemable defect in the proposal.
Realising its mistakes, but facing a burnt bridge, the MWCC now claims to have “begun collaborative work with various indigenous elders”—but does not name them. It has utterly failed to win the support of the people who named the mountain.
the indigenous perspective
The spiritual owners of the mountain are the aboriginal descendants of the original inhabitants of Lutriwitta. They have made their views on a cable car very clear. The MWCC neither heeds nor even acknowledges their views. But the Wellington Park Management Trust is required to listen. The Park's Management Plan states that “the Aboriginal community will be consulted on any undertaking or development which will impinge upon Aboriginal sites and other heritage values.”
shared Spiritual views
A complex and deep sense of sacredness in the mountain, and an angry response to the threat of desecration, is shared. The mountain's power and splendour, its wild temperament and its serene aloofness inspire awe, respect and love.
Bringer of Storms, Lantern of Dawn and Dusk, Mother Mountain, the Grey King: the mountain carries many epithets.
The cable car lobby draws upon this awe and respect to colour its own descriptions of the mountain, but cannot abide the inference: leave it be. The cable car lobbyists will never admit that their scheme is a desecration nor will they argue that spiritual feelings are baseless, and so they divert. The road scar, the communication towers, the car park. They say the mountain is not a snow-white virgin. The cable car is just one more scar. The Pinnacle Centre is below the skyline.
That is a contemptible argument and ignoring this profound well of connection will not make it disappear.
It is the mountain’s winds that shape the experience of it. It is its cold that is memorable. It is stumbling on real rocks that teaches you that you are in a real world. The MWCC ignores the mountain as a primordial, natural experience. It proffers instead commercial experiences like shopping and dining.