The scourge of municipal parking meters

The day of the parking meter has expired. Picture (cropped) by Chris Yarzab
The day of the parking meter has expired. Picture (cropped) by Chris Yarzab

Parking meters were never popular, but for today’s bricks-and-mortar retailers they have become downright terrifying.

Once-upon-a-time, councils could get away with using these as revenue raisers.

Not any more.

Online shopping gives people an easy alternative to visiting bricks-and-mortar shops.

If people are going to keep visiting shops, it has to be a pleasant experience. If not, they’ll stay away.

Hobart City Council is helping people stay away … read this and weep.

And before you say fewer vehicles taken on shopping trips is good because it creates less traffic and less CO2, consider that online purchases must be delivered, often right across the world from the land of the online bargain, China.

The material world makes greenhouse gas. There is no escape.

And here’s an external story about the crash in retail outlets in the USA, a trend quite possibly coming to a store near you in the near future.

Here’s a story about the death of shopping malls.

Retail, that great employer of young Australians, needs all the help it can get.

The heat is on: Huon Valley Council hammers ratepayers with 6% increase

The Huon Valley
The Hammered Huon Valley

Tasmania’s Huon Valley Council (HVC) increased its rates by almost 6% in 2019, a huge increase over the CPI, which is 1.3%.

The HVC operates in the south of Tasmania where the annual median household income was just $38,701 in 2016 (ABS figures), compared to $47,692 nationally.

Why are cash-poor Huon ratepayers being slugged?

According to a Mercury newspaper report (paywalled), the increase was to pay for an electric vehicle and solar panels.

The amount raised however, about $700,000, appears to be far more than the cost of an electric vehicle and solar panels.

Regardless, the rate increase will increase greenhouse gas production over any benefit gained from an electric vehicle and solar panels.

Given wage stagnation, additional cost-of-living increases will force people to work more shifts or longer hours.

Everything we do, other than sitting around at home, generates greenhouse gases. Even sitting around at home produces CO2 if you have a heater on, or eat meat.

There’s no escaping it. A Huon farmer might breed an extra beast or two to cover rising costs, and the livestock will add to already skyrocketing global methane levels.

I also question how the council’s new solar panels will be helpful with regard to greenhouse gases, in an area that uses clean hydro electricity.

There are other things the council could spend its money on.

Cash must be set aside to mitigate the inevitable effects of climate change.

Money is needed to develop plans and resources to fight worsening summer bushfires, and to help people who are affected.

Fires are likely to become the Huon’s No.1 problem with climate change.

Given the surge in Antarctic ice melt since 2014, and more recently Greenland, soon enough, low-lying roads and council infrastructure along the river and coast will need raising or relocation as sea levels rise.

This is an inevitable future cost for which setting up a “future fund” may be prudent.

Separately, the Huonville tip (Southbridge Transfer Station) is, surprisingly, located on the bank of the Huon River. It should be relocated. There is an eternal pile of chemical containers and other rubbish just metres from the riverbank. Is the soil under this pile contaminated? Is it getting into the river? Regardless, this is prime real estate that should not be a tip/waste transfer station.

The HVC has an unfortunate history.

The council lost a small fortune through poor investments at the time of the Global Financial Crisis.

More recently, the council became so dysfunctional it had to be sacked. A commissioner was installed, at great cost, to get the show back on the road.

Having already wasted enough of ratepayers’ money, the least the council could do is make rate-rise decisions that reflect reality.

In a struggling economy, in a low-income municipality, in a world suffering a climate emergency, that means holding rate increases at or below CPI.

Hobart to Cradle Mountain in a weekend

Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake in 2008 ... it's a big day out
Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake in 2018 … it’s a big day out

Can you visit Cradle Mountain from Hobart in one weekend?

The short answer is yes, it can be done, but it is a bit gruelling.

Cradle Mountain is in the north-west of the island, in a fairly mountainous, out-of-the way corner.

Hobart is in the far south.

We did the trip, leaving on a Saturday morning, staying overnight at the lodge at Cradle Mountain National Park, and leaving at noon the next day.

This only gave us time for the shorter walks near the mountain.

We could have visited caves near Mole Creek on the way home if someone hadn’t taken a wrong turn and driven to Forth via Wilmot …

Still, always nice to see some new road.

But the Hobart-to-Cradle-and-back-in-one-weekend gig is a bit tough, being 4.5 hours of driving each way.

A long weekend would be better.

Tasmanian music

Tasmania has a surprisingly healthy live music scene for a relatively small island.

You can find live original music in Hobart.

Here’s a list of musicians …

And here’s where you can get a taste of Tasmanian music …

And here’s a Tasmanian drummer rockin’ a tin shed.

Tasmanian Life