Saturday, 23 December 2017


Launceston’s Council’s leadership is a figment of somebody’s imagination and its not to be found anywhere near Town Hall. 

Council rounded off its year by licensing itself to do whoever’s bidding in secret and behind closed doors. 

Taking away constituent's opportunities to engage with council in fulsome free flowing community discourses via fortnightly Strategic Planning and Policy Committee meetings, well that was swept away like so many autumn leaves in a park on a windy day. 

This screws down the lid on the coffin that holds the remains of all hope for a meaningful critical discourse in the city.

Aldermen sprooking up their credentials as ‘elected decision makers’ seem to quickly assume that they have the social licence to do whatever it is they want well away from public scrutiny and behind tightly closed doors. 

Rumour and critical banter has the Mayor and Aldermen McKenzie, McKendrick and Finlay (and presumably others too) as the most often reported for such self-serving rhetoric – and it comes in various shapes and forms. At best this stuff is 'dumbed down schoolyard politics' unworthy of supposed grown-ups or even elected representative of a community such as Launceston.

Just try and contact an Launceston alderman other than on some designated occasion and you're likely to get a dumbed-down recorded message telling you how busy they are. Approach one at a public event and as often as not they'll find themselves in a deep private conversation, or they'll tell you they need to keep on circulating, or they'll tell you they have all the good oil and your concerns are trivial and totally unfounded. Worse still, they'll tell you it’s an "operational matter" that they cannot discuss with you as it’s in the hands of the General Manager and other officers. 

Then approach the GM, or any other council officer, and they're likely to tell you, if you hold an alternative view to themselves, count to three and wait for them to tell you to "talk to an alderman" or put your concerns in writing. Either way you’ve been fobbed off!

As time passes the tools of obfuscation become sharper and sharper. In the end, you have nothing to do but to continue to pay up and shut up – well that's the plan. If you do not, there is always the latent promise to 'sell you up' or 'come down on you like a ton of bricks' under some regulation or other. All the time 'council' surrounds itself with its self-congratulatory 'values' assumed to put 'council' way, way beyond criticism and critique – and to see you off in a flash ... LINK HERE.

How can you argue with anyone in power who claims to be telling you 'the truth' even though you've got copious evidence to counter such assertions?

All this is just a backdrop to three years of the increasingly evident dumbing down of council matters in Launceston.  Discretionary accountability is in practice at Launceston's Town Hall and its selling ratepayers very short. In accountability terms, four years of ‘all-in-all-out’ councils, have proven to be a disaster in so much as it has clearly propagated uninhibited hubris and a sense contemptuousness in regard to 'the constituency' with elections always quite a way away. 

Launceston's final council meeting for 2017 was a rolled gold exemplar of just about everything that a constituency would hope not to find in Local Government. The Mayor trying to smooth things over after the fact in the press and on TV might be as they say, 'suckering the punters' – well some of them. However, in the longer term its less and less likely to ‘cut it’ given that the constituency, on the evidence, is not nearly as dumb as the aldermen's beliefs and hopes for them. Also, they, 'the punters', are increasingly better connected via social media than most aldermen iy seems.

As for the projected demise of the Launceston Show, this is where the council has not done itself proud in the 'leadership stakes'. And this is not something that has just exhibited itself, it's been a background issue for quite some time. 

One might think that in a city like Launceston its council might be looking to promote the city more proactively via such events. 

‘Show Week’ in Launceston was once a boom time and it could be again.

One would think that a council might want to tap into the city's history and heritage wherever it could. With 144 years of history, Launceston show might well be seen as a rich opportunity to promote the city rather than dumbing down everything and characterising ‘The Show’ as being a liability and a drain on 'council funds'

Sadly, this dumbing down is on a relentless spiral downwards and heading nowhere interesting. 

Sure, 'agricultural shows' might need to be 'reimagined' in the way 'The Gorge' is currently being 'reimagined'. In order that 'The Show' might win 21st Century relevance, and audience support, change will be needed – and it’s very doable'The Show' is a part of Launceston's cultural heritage but it's highly unlikely that Launceston' exGM, Robert Dobrzynski, would have been inclined to include anything about it in his brief to Robin Archer (Cultural Consultantwho, apparently, is currently developing a 'cultural strategy' for the city.

No, no, no, as someone from somewhere else such things are unlikely to cross one's mind and something more gets whittled away when this lot of aldermen look away – or perhaps are playing some other game rather than representing their constituents.

However, the financial suffocation of 'The Show Society' has been ongoing for some time. And, despite the new GM's assurances that "Council has [not] engineered the steady decline of the Royal Launceston Show" anyone with their ear to the ground could be excused for thinking otherwise. Then again, he'd have to say wouldn't he?!

Launceston Council has only ever offered token support as other forces coveted 'Show Society land'. In fact, Aldermen McKenzie and Alexander watched over the demise (some say an orchestrated demise) of YPIPA (York Park and Inveresk Precinct Authority) the ‘council body’ that once championed 'The Show'. Unsurprisingly, the event's future has been becoming increasingly bleak with all this going on in the background one shouldn't be surprised.

Given YPIPA's vision was to see the Inveresk precinct as a "vibrant cultural centre for Entertainment, Education and Recreation", YPIPA's summary demolition as an 'authority' saw the prospect of 'The Show' having its future undermined and increasingly– and becoming more and more tenuous

So much for local culture, so much for the aspirations of ordinary Launcestonians. When one-dimensional dumb and muddle headed thinking seems to hold the trump card it’s hard to see a way forward – nor indeed would there be any room for logic.

Given all that is at stake, what should have happened long ago was a community consultation process tasked to find a new way forward for 'The Show' given all the signals and the 'flashing warning lights' telling us that such a thing was needed. That the city of Launceston's Council has been missing in action, its inaction is palpable. Given all the signals that such a thing was, and arguably still is, very much needed, just what is holding it back? 

Interestingly, the Royal National Agricultural and Pastoral Society (RNAPS) still holds the key cards in this unmistakably sinister game of chance.  What would allow such a process to begin? As for the so-called 'devastating debt' to the Council, well that could be paid off over time. As for raising funds, options exist. As for what 'The Show’ might look like that’s something worth exploring.

In all this the City of Launceston's Council has been missing and its recalcitrance is palpable. 

Given Council’s lack of leadership, and Council’s community disconnect, 'The Show’ is only likely survive as an event with cultural significance in Launceston if the community works with the RNAPS. Council could facilitate that but apparently its a looking away with other things in mind – maybe that's a bridge too far.

The very notion that the proposed University of Tasmania’s relocation not being a factor in the decision to refuse a financial request from the RNAPS, well it is implausible. To help host the Launceston Show in 2018 the City of Launceston is blighted by it own serial and demonstrated disregard for 'The Show'. Among Council's unfolding visions, visions that are largely only ever discussed 'in secret' it seems, one wonders just how grotty all this is yet to get.

Council's decision, again behind closed doors, to knock back a proposal for Council to buy back the Launceston Showgrounds lease was as sinister as it is malevolent. Yet, the notion that the show could not go on without the support of Council given the financial situation is challengeable.

And then there is this breaking news
FROM BASIL FITCH'S FACEbook: "Newnham university campus to be bulldozed for housing! Fire Brigade asked to assess the whole campus site for housing! 

  • What is the real truth about the refusal by Launceston City Council to support the Show Society? 
  • Where does the truth really lie with the UTas Newnham Campus and Inveresk? 
Multi millions of dollars wasted and more being wasted. SCAM!!!!! Commercial-in-confidence - Van Zetten reveals that the Show Society debt is $100,000

University so-called Master Plan July 2017 clearly marks 750 car parking spaces on the Show Society's land! 

Lies, lies and more damn lies!" ...


1 comment:

  1. Tess BruntonTess Brunton of THE EXAMINER . tells us that Royal Launceston ShowEmergency meeting is on hold for​ Royal Launceston ShowEmergency meeting on hold for​ Royal Launceston ShowEmergency meeting on hold for​ Royal Launceston ShowEmergency meeting on hold An emergency meeting about the now-cancelled Royal Launceston Show has been put on hold until mid-January. The meeting was scheduled for late December after a last-ditch effort to save the show was knocked back by the City of Launceston council. Show society president Jock Gibson said the meeting was postponed as board members were away. While the society originally planned to meet in December, the members decided to hold off until they could be there to discuss any plans, he said. The society originally proposed the council could buy back its lease for the Launceston Showgrounds, then lease it back for the event each year. The proposal, which was discussed by councillors in a closed meeting on December 18, was not supported and the society was notified two days later. At the time, Mr Gibson said the decision meant the Royal Launceston Show could not continue. Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten said, at the time of the decision, councillors agreed it was not fair or reasonable for ratepayers to continue to fund the show. WATCH THIS SPACE!