Tasmania Police took years to charge alleged paedophile nurse who worked with children, review finds

An internal review into how Tasmania Police handled its investigation into an alleged paedophile nurse has revealed the police were told of allegations he was abusing children as early as 2009.

It took another 10 years for police to charge James Geoffrey Griffin, and only after a complaint was received by an alleged victim.

Even after police received the formal complaint, it took from early May until the end of July for his workplace, the Launceston General Hospital, to be informed of the allegations.

The review revealed the agency received information about potential child abuse in relation to Mr Griffin in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015.

The first report to police came from an interstate police agency alleging Griffin had taken photos of children in a public place.

Police investigated that report by executing a search warrant and speaking to Griffin, but found no evidence of an offence.

Tasmania Police’s review found it handled those allegations appropriately.

The 2013 report related to allegations of “inappropriate touching and grooming behaviour” by Mr Griffin.

Police referred the matter to child protection, who spoke to Mr Griffin and the alleged victim.

Both denied the allegations, so the file was closed and police took no further action. Police did not speak to Mr Griffin nor the potential victim.

The 2015 report related to a referral from the Australian Federal Police related to Griffin and sexual offending and child exploitation material.

“Deficiencies in the management of this information by Tasmania Police have been identified and are the subject of a current Professional Standards investigation that relates to the Police Service Code of Conduct,” the review said.

As a result of the internal review, Tasmania Police said it had now implemented a specialist investigative and policy team to improve processes and procedures related to investigations into child sex abuse.

Mr Griffin took his own life in October 2019 after being charged with multiple child sex offences.

Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine apologised to Mr Griffin’s alleged victims for any harm caused by the deficiencies identified in the report.

“I think this has fallen short of everyone’s standards, we need to make sure we continue to learn and evolve in relation to these matters.”

Commissioner Hine said he wanted to reassure victims they could safely come forward and that their “matters will be pursued”.

The report identified problems in information sharing across agencies, particularly with the Department of Communities, and called for a review of investigative guidelines of child sex offences.

Premier Peter Gutwein said the government would provide an addition $1.5 million in funding for a historic complaints’ review process lead by a specialist team within Tasmania Police, looking particularly at police and Department of Communities files.

“My expectation is that no stone be left unturned,” Mr Gutwein said.

‘The voice of victims matters’

Mr Gutwein also apologised to survivors of child sex abuse “where any agency may not have handled information appropriately”.

“The voice of victims matters, it truly does, and any victims of child sex abuse, whether historic or contemporary, need to know that they can come forward, and that when they do, they will be heard and appropriate action will be taken.

The report won’t be made public before the Commission of Inquiry into child abuse in the state service — Tasmania’s version of a royal commission – gets underway later this year.

The Government announced the Commission last year and since then 14 state service employees have been stood down over historical allegations of sexual abuse.

Some questions from the media would not be answered by Commissioner Hine and Mr Gutwein because they said they didn’t want to prejudice the commission’s proceedings.

“We are being as open and transparent as we can; on legal advice we cannot provide more information other than the Outcomes Report without prejudicing the Commission of Inquiry or identifying victims,” Commissioner Hine said in a statement.

“It is essential that the Inquiry is not impeded in its full examination of all matters.”

There is also a continuing internal police investigation around how information was dealt with, but Commissioner Hine wouldn’t be drawn on the number of people involved in that because it is ongoing.

Mr Gutwein said this report was a starting point for a lot more improvements and a lot more shocking developments.

“In terms of the commission of inquiry, Tasmanians needs to brace themselves, I think there will be a range of matters brought forward that will concern and shock Tasmanians.”

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Happy Husky Bounds Through Denver Snow

Snowfall in Denver, Colorado, made a husky very happy on Thursday morning, February 25, caught on video dashing through his front yard. Brett Schklar shared video on Twitter of his dog, Thunder, in his element Thursday morning. The National Weather Service said as much as 12 inches had accumulated in parts of Denver by early morning February 25. Credit: Brett Schklar via Storyful

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Aged care development to capitalise on ageing population on east coast of Tasmania

There are hopes a new retirement village and nursing home on Tasmania’s east coast will attract and retain more health workers to the regional area.

There are plans for a multi-million-dollar development on an 18-hectare property called Kelvedon Estate, 4 kilometres south of Swansea.

“The minute I saw the view and the position, I just knew it was exactly right,” principal architect John Lewis said.

“To feel that you’re living in a country town but with all the amenities that you need and can afford in your latter years.”

The Tempus retirement village has passed early hurdles after the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council initiated a planning scheme amendment and approved part of the first stage.

The proposal includes plans for a medical evacuation helipad.(Supplied: Tempus Village)

Plans include 140 independent living units, 30 assisted living units and in the future, a 44-bed nursing home, including a dementia ward.

“It will go through to high care, so in a sense, it’s a mini-hospital, although there won’t be operating as such,” Mr Lewis said.

He said the local Swansea GP clinic currently had two doctors and would look to expand to four GPs once the village was built.

There are also plans for a medical evacuation helipad, meaning patients are a 15-minute flight from the Royal Hobart Hospital.

The site will also have an 81-seat theatre, function hall, horse stables, communal workshop, playground and cafe which will all be open to the public.

Proponent Les Walden said the plan was to create something a bit different from other retirement villages.

“Some of them are just like ghost towns even though they’re supposedly full, we didn’t want to reproduce those,” he said.

“I’m sure they all do a good job but we wanted to produce something where people could age well, with home services, that’s pretty much a unique concept as we understand it.”

Mr Walden said the plan was to integrate health services into the local community.

“There’ll be medical rooms that people can use,” he said.

“We think it will attract other medical professionals, and that’s obviously of benefit in medical and economic ways to the community there.”

Health care services ‘under enormous strain’

Population researcher and demographer Amina Keygan said the population of the east coast was definitely getting older.

“Over the last 20 years, the proportion of those over 65 years in Glamorgan Spring Bay has increased from 19 per cent to 33 per cent of the overall population,” she said.

“Comparatively the population of Tasmania as a whole who are over 65 is roughly 20 per cent.”

Amina Keygan sits at a computer screen.
Tasmanian demographer Amina Keygan says any development needs to come with supportive infrastructure.(ABC News: Rick Eaves)

Dr Keygan said retirement villages on the east coast would need to come with supportive infrastructure such as access to medical services to avoid putting a strain on regional health services.

“Our regional health care services are under an enormous strain at the moment, due in part to inabilities to attract and retain health care workers in regional and rural areas,” she said.

“This is in part why the Tasmanian health system relies so heavily on fly-in fly-out locums and specialists.”

Young families welcome too

She said there was an opportunity for healthcare jobs to be created by the developments.

Leanne Dann, real estate agent.
Real estate agent Leanne Dann says the east coast is in the midst of a property boom.(ABC News: Laura Beavis)

East coast real estate agent Leanne Dann said she hoped more development would mean more health workers would be attracted to the area.

“We would love to see a lot more young families reside here and enjoy the coastal lifestyle,” she said.

She said there had been a property boom on the east coast, with land and houses selling about twice as quickly as they used to.

Mr Lewis said employment was something the developers were hoping to boost.

“Because we’re not just seasonal, we’re not just the holiday market, we’re there all the time, we’ll be able to offer people long-term careers so that the younger ones can stay here, we hope to train people,” she said.

The project’s current budget is $85 million but will increase by about $40 million when plans for the nursing home are finalised.

The proposed planning amendment, which includes highway access and some construction, will be available for public submissions before it is referred to the Tasmanian Planning Commission.

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Tasmania’s Aboriginal community outraged over government control of sacred Wargata Mina cave site

It is owned and managed by the Aboriginal community — but the sacred Wargata Mina cave in southwest Tasmania is still being controlled by the State Government, according to Tasmania’s Aboriginal Centre (TAC).

The cave is so remote it is only accessible by helicopter, and in order for helicopters to land in the area people are required to seek permits from the Parks and Wildlife Department, including Aboriginal people.

The cave is not open to the public, and photos of the hand stencils are not permitted, in order to protect the sacred site.

The TAC’s Nala Mansell is outraged, given the title of the Wargata Mina cave site was transferred to the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania in 1995.

“Wargata Mina cave is Aboriginal land, we own that land,” Ms Mansell said.

“It’s a complete abuse of power.”

Nala Mansell says the government has “snuck behind our backs to be the people in control of access”.(ABC News: Loretta Lohberger)

Ms Mansell said it’s one of the most spiritually significant sites to Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

“It’s a cave that was owned by our people for thousands of years. It contains hand stencils of our old people dating back over 15,000 years, so it obviously holds a really strong cultural and spiritual significance to our people,” she said.

She said the TAC would do everything in its powers to ensure the cave site was protected.

Map showing location of Wargata Mina Cave in Tasmania.
The Wargata Mina Cave site cannot be accessed by road.(ABC News)

Last week, Aboriginal heritage officer Sharnie Read visited the sacred site along with Nala Mansell and a group of other community members.

She said the Wargata Mina cave was an art site, with ancient art painted on the walls in more than one location.

Ms Read said the site was very special.

“It’s places like that within our culture that we utilise particularly for ceremony, so therefore it is hugely significant and very emotional cultural kind of connection to us who are today, but also the traditional practices that are no longer common within our community.”

A number of Indigenous elders were included in the trip.

A woman crouches down in a clearing in the bush.
“It’s so important for our elders — the elders are the custodians of these stories” — Sharnie Read.(ABC News: Mitch Woolnough)

“It’s so important for our elders — the elders are the custodians of these stories, and to be able to take them to these places is not an easy task, due to the inability for them to walk into that remote area,” she said.

“To take them there and give them that opportunity to connect and then to have those stories passed on to younger generations in the community is fulfilling a cultural right.

“For me personally, there is no other thing. There’s no other kind of cultural aspect that even comes close to having the opportunity or ability to do that for my elders.”

Concern DPIPWE staff have visited site without permission

Nala Mansell said the TAC had been made aware that the State Government had been granting permits to their own department staff to visit the sacred site.

“Without any consultation whatsoever with us as the landowners, we have no idea how this could have happened, that they’ve snuck behind our backs to be the people in control of access,” she said.

Ms Mansell said the TAC had contacted the Minister’s office and the secretary of DPIPWE but had heard absolutely nothing.

“We’re looking into charges of trespass for the state government permitting entry on to privately owned Aboriginal land, without our permission or any consultation whatsoever.”

Members of Tasmania's Aboriginal community pose next to a helicopter.
Members of Tasmania’s Aboriginal community had to get permission to fly in to the site.(Supplied)

Sharnie Read said that in her view Parks and Wildlife staff had been abusing the process by handing themselves permits.

“Even though those cave sites are private property they take their own staff members … and they go into those places without asking the Aboriginal community if it’s appropriate.

Rodney Dillon from the Tasmanian Regional Aboriginal Communities Alliance agreed.

In a statement, a DPIPWE spokeswoman said PWS “does not issue landing authorities for Aboriginal land, only for the adjacent reserved land in the TWWHA”.

“PWS ‘Working on Country’ Aboriginal Rangers were authorised to land in the TWWHA near the Wargata Mina cave in early February to assist PWS Aboriginal fire rangers with post wildfire assessments.”

“Verbal consent was sought from the Chair of the Aboriginal Land Council for the Aboriginal Rangers to visit the cave and they entered the cave to appreciate its cultural significance as many had not been there before.”

But chair of the Aboriginal Land Council Michael Mansell said he had not received any calls from the department or any officials asking for permission to visit the caves.

“If had received any such phone call, I would’ve told them to put it in writing and send it to the office of the Aboriginal Land Council,” he said.

“We’ve owned the land since 1995, so that’s 26 years. I’ve been Land Council Chairman for the last three years and I’ve received no calls from the department seeking access.

“They should seek access because the land belongs to Aboriginal people and is no longer Crown land.”

He said he would be “very happy” to sit down with the department, minister or Premier to sort out the issue.

“The department should not be claiming it has permission from the Aboriginal Land Council when it doesn’t,” he said.

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Brisbane gets IOC green light to go for Olympic gold

Brisbane has been named the preferred candidate to host the 2032 Olympics.

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Aged care residents were given a higher dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. What’s the danger?

The case of two aged care residents mistakenly being given four times the recommended dosage of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the first week of Australia’s rollout is not without precedent, but nor is it a cause for panic.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the pair — an 88-year-old man and a 94-year-old woman — were being monitored and were “showing no signs at all of an adverse reaction”.

In Germany’s Pfizer vaccine rollout, eight aged care workers received up to five times the recommended dose of the Pfizer jab. Four were later hospitalised after developing flu-like symptoms.

All eight workers went on to recover without any adverse effects.

But what happens to our body if we do get a larger dose?

Here’s what the science tells us so far.

Pfizer’s early vaccine trials

The Pfizer vaccine contains genetic material called mRNA (which encodes the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein), plus a handful of pharmaceutical ingredients that help to stabilise it.

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration granted provisional approval in January for use of the Pfizer vaccine, outlining that it requires two 30-microgram doses, to be taken 21 days apart.

In the vaccine’s initial trials, doses of up to 100mcg were given to participants without serious side effects. (Other participants in those early trials were given a 10mcg dose, 30mcg dose or placebo.)

Researchers then weighed up the efficacy rate of the drug against the likelihood of an adverse event, before setting the vaccine’s optimal dosage.

As University of Queensland professor of medicine Paul Griffin explains, there is a “very high margin of safety” with the dosage amounts used in clinical trials.

“We nearly always test doses that are higher than we ultimately use, again so we can be confident of that safety margin in the vaccines that we are using.”

But it’s worth noting that people in Pfizer’s early trials who had the higher dose were more likely to report redness or swelling at the injection site and severe pain than participants receiving lower dosages.

Professor Griffin said participants who were given the higher dosage also had a higher chance of experiencing systemic effects such as flu-like symptoms (similar to the German health workers’ reaction).

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Play Video. Duration: 2 minutes 7 seconds

There were no adverse effects after two people given an incorrect dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Will the two residents be OK?

If these residents received four times the recommended 30mcg dosage, they would have been given 120mcg of the vaccine, more than Pfizer tested in its initial trials.

Murdoch University professor of immunology Cassandra Berry explained that the residents would have received more mRNA — the genetic blueprint for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

But this might not necessarily be a bad thing, Professor Berry explained, and the larger dosage might even “work better” than the optimal dose of 30mcg.

“There will be more protein made, which is the spike of the coronavirus, and the body is quite used to preparing lots of [mRNA] into protein every day,” she said.

And Professor Griffin said judging by the amount the residents were given, the prospect of ill effect was “fortunately very low”.

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Play Video. Duration: 2 minutes 4 seconds

Two elderly patients given wrong vaccine dose in Queensland

Despite the residents’ age, they’re no more likely to develop negative side effects from the higher dose than younger counterparts.

While it was “hard to say” how much of the Pfizer vaccine a person would have to be given to result in serious side effects, Professor Griffin said it would be “significantly higher” than 120mcg.

Giving older people larger vaccine doses is standard too, Professor Griffin added.

“We know with some vaccines, people who are elderly actually respond [and develop immunity] a bit less than people who aren’t.

“With the flu, we have a vaccine for people that are elderly with a higher dose for that season.”

If a larger dose works better, why won’t we get it?

Well, because results still show a dose of 30mcg with a second 30mcg booster is the optimal dosage — and is the amount the TGA recommends.

There’s also the fact that we’re also in a global pandemic.

“What happens when there is a crisis and there is a limited stockpile of vaccine, they [regulatory bodies and governments] go into dose-sparing strategy,” Professor Berry said.

“If we give people a higher dose … we run out of a manufacturing supply base.”

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Play Video. Duration: 1 minute 54 seconds

What to expect from the COVID-19 vaccine rollout

In the first round of Pfizer drug trials, participants who received the 100mcg dose weren’t given a second 100mcg dose.

But Professor Berry said even if you had a higher first dose, you would still need a second shot.

“You definitely need the booster shot to prime the cells to make the antibody [to protect against the virus],” she said.

“The antibody is what floats around in your blood and that would bind to the spike protein of the virus, if you were to see it in real life, and it neutralises the virus.”

In Australia, anyone who is given an incorrect dose will be monitored closely by health authorities, as will anyone who reports adverse or unusual effects to the drug itself.

What next?

Professor Griffin said while it was “really disappointing” this dosage error had occurred in the first week of the rollout, people could still have faith in the vaccine program.

He was concerned that reports of the incident could fuel some people’s anxiety about the Pfizer rollout.

“It’s important to know it was transparently reported in real time, and that the vaccine was proven safe and effective in clinical trials,” he said.

Professor Berry agreed, noting that for a vaccine to be provisionally approved by the TGA, it must pass considerable testing — on top of the thorough three-phase testing that Pfizer put the vaccine though.

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Tasmanian man charged with child abuse and bestiality offences after police search home and car

Police say items found in the car boot of a Tasmanian man charged with child abuse offences are of particular concern.

The 61-year-old man from the Hobart area has been charged with possessing child abuse and bestiality material after the search of his car and property on Tuesday.

The search by Australian Federal Police and Tasmania Police officers was sparked by reports made to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, via the United States’ National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Police seized a mobile phone and a laptop computer from the man’s property.

It is alleged the phone contained “significant amounts” of child abuse material, along with bestiality content.

Police said they also found a number of items in the man’s car boot that they suspected indicated additional offending, or plans for further offending.

AFP Commander Todd Hunter said the AFP and Tasmania Police were working together under the Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team (JACET).

“The Tasmania JACET will continue to work together to track down and prosecute anyone who seeks to bring harm to any child.”

The man has been charged with possessing child abuse material and a bestiality product.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.

He appeared in the Hobart Magistrates Court on Tuesday and was granted bail to appear again in March.

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Calling all renovators! Help raise this Charleston church from the dead

6 Mount View Road, Charleston. Supplied by Adcock Real Estate.

A Charleston property offers a great opportunity for keen buyers to start their own business in the Adelaide Hills by rolling up their sleeves and resurrecting a dilapidated church.

The former Charleston Uniting Church and Cemetary at 6 Mount View Rd, Charleston is currently on the market for just $220,000 through Adcock Real Estate and is being advertised as residential land, sitting on a spacious 1720sqm allotment.

The heritage-listed property is owned by the Uniting Church of South Australia and, according to the property’s realestate.com.au listing, “the Charleston Uniting Church and Cemetery’s local heritage importance means whatever development aspiration you have – be it a gallery, community facility, or a residential/Airbnb remodel – it must meet the restoration guidelines of the Adelaide Hills Council.”

The listing goes on …

“While the church will stay put, it is unsafe to enter or inhabit at present and will require a restoration of the highest order; any intention to add another dwelling, extend, or improve the site must also meet the Council’s planning approvals, and will be subject to the effect on its local heritage and community value.”

6 Mount View Road, Charleston. Supplied by Adcock Real Estate.

The property borders the Charleston Cemetary and has some burial graves on site.

The new buyers will be required to allow public access to the cemetery, and a neighbour right-of-way access to a shed via the property’s driveway.

Selling agent Nikki Seppelt said the property offered loads of potential for those prepared to think creatively.

“The council has advised us that they wouldn’t be supportive of removing the church, that their top priority is for a potential purchaser to repair and maintain that building,” Ms Seppelt said.

“What they’d be looking at with any application would be how it would affect the local heritage and community before any further development.

“There’s the potential there to create a gallery, or a gallery with a cafe, a studio, or something like that, that community groups might potentially be able to hire out.

“The people I’ve had the best conversations with are those looking to run it as a gallery or cafe style business.”

Ms Seppelt said future renovation work would be extensive, with many of the building’s ceilings having collapsed.

6 Mount View Road, Charleston. Supplied by Adcock Real Estate.

“The church needs to be gutted and the new buyer starting again – at the moment I can’t take people past the front door from a safety perspective,” she said.

“Someone with know-how or a builder can go up there and see what needs to be done, and anything that’s done is subject to council consent.

“There are the facilities there to create something really exciting and the area is really very sought-after at the moment.

“There’s loads of potential there for someone who can think outside the box.”

6 Mount View Road, Charleston. Supplied by Adcock Real Estate.

Ms Seppelt said the Adelaide Hills, particularly the towns surrounding Charleston – which include Woodside, Lobethal and Lenswood – were all seeing a surge in interest in recent months.

“Interest rates are low so buyers are active in the area and people are increasingly looking at our regional areas,” she said.

The property sits among rolling hills, award-winning wineries, cafes, bikeways, scenic drives, parks and recreational facilities and is just 40 minutes from the city via the freeway.


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Mt Wellington cable car developer hoping to start construction this year, despite set-back over Aboriginal heritage requirement

The Mount Wellington Cableway Company is pressing ahead with a tourism development on Hobart’s mountain that it says is “needed badly” by the state, despite another set-back over its efforts to address Aboriginal heritage concerns.

The company took the Hobart City Council to the Resource, Planning and Appeals Tribunal (RMPAT) last year, after the council asked for more information on Aboriginal heritage.

Right to Information documents show the company was unable to bring an Aboriginal heritage consultant into the state and proposed to go ahead anyway, alerting authorities if a site of significance was found.

But the Tribunal handed down a decision Monday afternoon, directing the company to provide the information to council as requested.

MWCC chair Chris Oldfield said the company was disappointed but not deterred.

“We’ve now got some direction from the Tribunal on some extra work we have to do and we’ll now get on and do that.” he said.

One Aboriginal opponent of the project says the company has a “complete lack of understanding of Aboriginal heritage”.(Supplied: MWCC)

Mr Oldfield said MWCC was concerned that meeting council’s request would require a much more intrusive on-site survey.

“With accompanying disturbance of the land, we did not believe it was appropriate to do that prior to approval of our development application.”

Vica Bayley from Residents Opposed to the Cable Car said the RPMAT decision was bittersweet.

Nala Mansell from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre agreed.

“I think it shows a complete lack of interest and understanding of Aboriginal heritage and our connection to our heritage.”

She said it was important that an onsite survey took place.

She urged the cableway company to work with the Aboriginal community.

“We always offer developers the opportunity to understand the importance of our sacred sites, to ensure they do not continue with any further desecration of the areas.”

Artist's impression of cable car near Organ Pipes.
The company’s chair says he is aware the “mountain means different things to different people”.(Mount Wellington Cableway Company)

‘We’ll learn from this, we’ll move on’

Right to Information documents reveal the Department of Environment advised the Mount Wellington Cableway Company it wasn’t legally required to follow the guidelines of the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

But Chris Oldfield said the company was not looking to lay blame.

“We take advice from a range of people and at the end of the day it’s our decision what advice we choose to take; we’re not blaming people here, we simply went to the Tribunal seeking clarity, they’ve now given us clarity.”

He said there is nothing more important to the company than working with the Indigenous community.

Artist's impression of cable car terminal.
The company’s visualisation of the project’s ‘base station’.(Mount Wellington Cableway Company)

But Mr Oldfield revealed it had been difficult to get an Aboriginal heritage consultant to undertake the work in the past.

“For a couple of reasons: one, there’s been some reluctance from members of the community and I understand that the mountain means different things to different people.”

He said the company was “successful in finding someone to do this work” but then “COVID came along”.

He said it was up to the company now to try to re-establish the relationships.

In a statement, Hobart City Council’s General Manager Nick Heath said the council was pleased the Tribunal had provided clarity and it now awaited the required information.

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Mount Wellington cable car stalls again — the latest hurdle in more than a century of plans

An appeal by the Mount Wellington Cableway Company (MWCC) has been overturned this week in another hitch in more than a century of attempts to carry visitors to the top of the mountain that looms over Hobart.

More than 130 years ago, a man calling himself “Professor” Hackett was the first to be recorded suggesting some form of aerial transport for kunanyi/Mount Wellington.

He was not alone and various versions of the project have been put forward.

The Mount Wellington Cableway Company had taken the Hobart City Council to the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) to argue a desktop survey of the mountain should be enough for their development application to proceed.

But the appeal was rejected based on the project’s potential impact on the mountain’s Aboriginal heritage.

In a decision released Monday afternoon, RMPAT ruled an on-site survey was needed for the development to comply with the mountain’s management plan.

An early photograph of a snow-covered kunanyi/Mount Wellington.(Supplied: Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office)

Over 100 years of vision

It was 1895 when the self-titled “Professor” William John Hackett, known around Hobart for proposing schemes such as a flying “machine on wires”, was reported in colonial newspapers calling for an “aerial tramway”.

He had recently been described by Launceston’s Daily Telegraph as a “screaming faddist” when he called for sewage-soaked areas of Hobart to be cleared by suction.

But it was at a meeting he attended in 1893 where, as well as suggesting a scheme to pump water from the Derwent River to clean the streets of Hobart, he proposed a plan for a cable car.

His description was reported in the Launceston Examiner on June 3, 1893:

The mountain stands at 1,271 metres above sea level, with its pinnacle about 14 kilometres from Hobart’s waterfront, but this project did not get off the ground.

Old and coloured photograph of Macquarie Street in Hobart with colonial buildings looking up at a snowy Mt Wellington
In 1906, Macquarie Street in Hobart could have featured a cable car if Arnold Wertheimer acted on his intentions.(Supplied: Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office)

Government supports cable car proposal

In 1905, the next proposal, the Mt Wellington Aerial Railway, was assisted in its passage by an act that was passed to authorise Arnold Wertheimer to construct an aerial railway.

The government granted “the promoter or his assigns” a nominal lease on a strip of land up the mountain.

It was proposed that the railway would be constructed from the pinnacle to an area just behind the Cascade Brewery, in South Hobart, below the mountain.

In 1906 it was reported in the Daily Telegraph that “[f]rom information gained as to those behind the project, it would appear as if the construction of the railway is assured”.

But seven years later, a letter to The Mercury newspaper on April 5, 1913 lamented that the build had not gone ahead:

“It would give to tourists to Hobart a unique attraction, which no other Australian capital could offer,” the author said.

“Our mainland critics would find that Hobart is more enterprising than they think.”

At the time, the project was estimated to cost 8,700 pounds.

No construction had begun when Wertheimer passed away in 1911.

Although in 1993, as reported in The Mercury, his grandson and namesake Arnold Wertheimer believed that as there was no sunset clause for his grandfather’s proposal listed in the government act, that he may have been in a position to develop a cable car.

Parliamentary library staff later discovered that the act was repealed by a Statute Laws Revision Act around 1935.

Hobart's Cascade Brewery with a snowy Mount Wellington/kunanyi backdrop.
A sprinkling of snow dusts Hobart’s Mount Wellington/kunanyi.(Supplied: Katy Morgan)

Railway becomes aerial tramway — again

James Chandler was the next to revitalise the vision for a cable car up the Mount Wellington in 1928, as reported by The Mercury at the time.

During a Hobart City Council meeting titled To the Springs by Air, the council adopted a report to “ascertain the practicability and cost of constructing a motor drive from the Springs to the Pinnacle”.

Panorama of Hobart
Taking in the view from the summit is high on the tourist to-do list.(ABC News: Gregor Salmon)

The same meeting noted receipt of a letter by Chandler, on behalf of a local syndicate, inquiring “whether the council would favourably view the construction of an aerial railway” and whether “reasonable facilities would be granted in connection with operating sites”.

In 1931, Chandler proposed that an electric current could power a 40-horsepower motor and transport people from the base to the top of the mountain in nine minutes.

Construction did not start on this project either.

Ogilvie’s Scar

By the late 1930s progress up Mount Wellington had been made, but not in the form of a cable car.

Old photo of trucks on road construction site.
In the 1930s, the building of a road to the mountain’s summit began.(Wellington Park Management Trust)

A new road up the mountain, known as Ogilvie’s Scar, was opened in 1937 and provided tourists with access to the summit.

The 7-kilometre stretch of road was named after Albert Ogilvie — the state premier who initiated the roadworks to provide employment during the Depression for out-of-work men.

The Voice reported on the road’s official opening:

“[T]he ceremony at the Pinnacle was broadcast by the ABC over the national network, the description being exceedingly valuable as publicity for the further attraction of tourists to Tasmania,” it said.

Enter Skyway

In the late 1980s the idea of a cable car surfaced again.

Well-known engineer Tim Burbury, who had worked on the Tasman Bridge, proposed Skyway — another vision for a cable car that would run from Cascade to the pinnacle of the mountain.

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Look back at how a cable car to the summit of Mt Wellington was imagined in the 1980s

This, according to a promotional video at the time, was to be “electrically powered, silent and unobtrusive”.

The Skyway was to run two cars and take two minutes longer than the 1930s’ proposal, clocking in at an 11-minute trip from base to summit.

On Burbury’s death in 2010, he was said to have passed the mantle for the cable car campaign to Adrian Bold — the current technical director of MMCC.

While Burbury is not been referred to by name on the current MWCC website, Mr Bold is quoted as saying:

What is next for MWCC?

Apart from more information on Aboriginal heritage, the council says it requires MWCC to provide details relating to the extent of vegetation clearance for bushfire hazard management.

Once this information has been provided and is considered satisfactory by the council the MWCC development application will be opened for public comment.

Cable car proponents on the mountain
Mount Wellington Cableway Company members on top of kunamyi/Mount Wellington, June 2019.(ABC News: Katri Uibu)

Thank you for spending your time with us on My Local Pages. We hope you enjoyed reading this news release regarding Tasmanian news called “Mount Wellington cable car stalls again — the latest hurdle in more than a century of plans”. This article is shared by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our local news services.

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