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(TASMANIA) JUST IN: Ten Aboriginal heritage officers have lodged a joint submission with Hobart City Council against the proposed cable car on kunanyi/Mount Wellington, saying it would “significantly affect the Aboriginal cultural values of kunanyi forever” #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.22: In its submission, the group criticised the Aboriginal heritage assessment used by the Mount Wellington Cableway Company in its application to the council as “perpetuating the racist myth of terra nullius”.

TASMANIA: The report, conducted by South Australian group Frontier Heritage Consulting, concluded the development “does not involve an Aboriginal heritage site” and “impacts on Aboriginal heritage sites have been reasonably avoided”.

They’ve brought in an archaeologist not even from Tasmania, but from another state, and this individual hasn’t even bothered to step outside of his own process and talk to Aboriginal people in Tasmania about what our values are,” Ms Read told ABC Radio Hobart.

Artist impression of a cable car development proposal.
An artist’s impression of the proposed cable car development on kunanyi/Mt Wellington.(Mt Wellington Cableway Company)

Sharnie Read, an Aboriginal heritage officer with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and a signatory of the joint submission, said the author of the report did not engage with any Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

“Yet he’s put forward a report that supposedly gives an understanding of what the Aboriginal values and significance of kunanyi is.”

Artist's impression of a cable car development on a mountain.
The proposal would also see a restaurant, cafe and bar at the Pinnacle of kunanyi/Mt Wellington.(Mt Wellington Cableway Company)

Aboriginal Heritage Officer Aaron Everett said none of the Aboriginal people he had spoken with supported the cable car proposal, and they were frustrated by the “shallow” heritage assessment.

“It’s not looking at it from an Aboriginal perspective, and how we look at our own country, and how we determine how we look at areas such as kunanyi,” Mr Everett said.

“It doesn’t always need to be a physical site in the sense of ‘stones and bones’. We have more of a connection to our country than just those physical sides of things.”

Artist impression of Mount Wellington summit cable car station
Public submissions to the council about the proposal will close at midnight on Tuesday.(mtwellingtoncablecar.com)

The Mount Wellington Cableway Company said it tried to engage local Aboriginal heritage officers to conduct its assessment, but they all refused.

The company said it then looked to Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania’s website to find an alternative, which recommended Frontier Heritage Consulting.

Ms Read said the local Aboriginal heritage officers refused to do the assessment because they had already made it clear they would not support any development on the mountain.

“There was no point being paid when you’re going to give them the same response you can right now,” she said.

“We felt that our position was stronger when we represented our community first and foremost, as opposed to a developer via being paid under a contract.”

Cable car near summit.
The proposed cable car route would pass over a section of kunanyi/Mt Wellington known as the “Organ Pipes”.(Supplied: MWCC)

As of 11:00am on Monday, the Hobart City Council had received 7,340 submissions on the cable car proposal — a record for the most submissions received by a council in Tasmania.

The previous record was set in 2019, when 1,456 submissions were received in response to Fragrance Group’s proposal to build a high-rise hotel in Hobart’s CBD.

Submissions close at midnight on Tuesday, and will then be handed over to an external assessment panel to prepare a report for the council.

The issue is then expected to be voted on by the council’s Planning Committee on July 27. 

Regardless of the committee’s decision next month, Ms Read said she expected the issue would end up with the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT), and it could go all the way to Tasmania’s Supreme Court.

“If that’s the case, we’ll fight it all the way,” she said.

Anti-cable car protesters dressed in red spell out No Cable Car in the foothills of kunanyi/Mount Wellington
The proposal for the cable car on kunanyi/Mount Wellington has divided the community for years.(Supplied: Rob Blakers)

#AceNewsDesk report ……..Published: Jun.22: 2021:

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