Originally published on 30 March 2012 on Tasmanian Times 30.03.12 2:18 am.

Deputy Lord Mayor Ron Christie’s monorail idea appears to have inadvertently highlighted what residents of Hobart have known for a long time.

Hobart City Council is the home for big ideas that go nowhere.

Cable cars, monorails, underground tunnels, light rail to the eastern shore, light rail to Glenorchy, commuter river ferries, trams, riverfront walkways and bike lanes.  Big ideas, but no action.

Some of the ideas are great.  If they actually happened I think the people of Hobart would likely be excited about them. 

But isn’t it time that our elected Hobart Alderman focused on one or two of these projects in an effort to actually make something happen?

In the last two weeks we’ve heard various Alderrman spinning the line that there is $1 billion in investment going into our city.  I must admit I was a little shocked, but nevertheless excited that we might be about to see something happen in Hobart.

So I did some research about what these projects might be.  That led me to the Council’s very own rate-payer funded propaganda machine, Capital City News, to see what it had to say about this magical $1 billion figure in November last year.

Sure enough, our now retired former Lord Mayor, had been trumpeting the same line about $1 billion of investment back in November, although he actually detailed what made it up:

There may be $1 billion of investment happening in our city, but hardly any of it is private investment, and none of the Aldermen’s pie-in-the-sky ideas have ever got off the ground.

It is almost as though our Aldermen are in competition to see who can get the most outrageous idea on the front page of the paper, as they line up to receive the media glory but have no plan to get any of these projects underway.

What the Capital City News piece really needed to acknowledge was that one of the biggest private investments in the city, the $100 million Parliament Square development at 10 Murray Street, has been sitting on hold for over two years due to ongoing, frivolous objections and court hearings.

It is absolutely baffling that no Alderman has come out and fought for the project after the Save 10 Murray group launched their anti-everything campaign.

What a terrible message to be sending to private investors here and interstate.

The message to those potential investors is that in Hobart, if you go through all the right processes and have broad public support you can still have your project held up for years for no good reason.

Even worse, you won’t even find a local representative to champion your project. They appear too scared to take on the anti-everything minority.

The project has overwhelming support, requires no public money and will fundamentally improve our waterfront area with more public space, better views from the city and a far more aesthetically pleasing building.

Here is a project sitting idle, fully funded and ready to go but with no champion.  All the while Alderman gush over a monorail project that is – at best – years away from any chance of ever being completed.

If there is one idea that our council should pursue, it is better access to Mt Wellington.

The number one development priority should be to make better use of our mountain.  That means better access to it, 365 days a year and better options for people when they get there.

If the tourism industry really is going to be one of the drivers of the Tasmanian economy into the future, we need to do much more to give visitors better access to our most special places and the best possible experience when they get there.

It is great to see new ideas, and I am heartened that our new Lord Mayor, Damon Thomas, has a broad vision for our city.  But he needs to make some of these ideas happen now.