If didn’t occasionally check in with The Mercury to see what Rupert Murdoch wants Tasmanians to worry about, I would never have realised how powerful Hobart City Council reportedly is. It turns out they have the unilateral power to ruin Christmas. Wow.
The HCC rightly cop a fair bit of flak for many reasons (such as the infamous Christmas tree installation in Salamanca). But for all their flaws, they are obviously doing better than the suspended Glenorchy and Huon Valley Councils. It is also a hard argument to make that they have handled any matter as shambolically as Kingborough Council’s handling of the proposal for the Kingston Beach Surf Lifesaving Club redevelopment.
I know I am setting a pretty low bar at this point and I’m certainly not suggesting that this is a valid performance standard to judge councils by. I’m more drawing attention to the backlash every decision of the HCC receives. Not only are they roasted on social media, they also receive such negative headlines, you might think they were a Labor government. Now don’t get me wrong. Their handling of some matters has been decidedly poor, but when we complain vociferously about every decision they make, public criticism becomes white noise instead of effective feedback.
It happened again in relation to Carols by Candlelight. After considering the economic factors and with the withdrawal of a major event partner, HCC decided that spending a six figure sum on an evening of Christmas Carols was not the best use of ratepayers’ money. Instead, they opted to try for a smaller scale series of events at a number of locations around the city for less than half of the expense.
Cue the outrage. I like most of the people commenting on the decision were not privy to the decision process, but that has not stopped a deluge of angry and hyperbolic responses.
Now maybe I’m not the right person to comment as I don’t really celebrate Christmas anyway, so obviously the decision has little consequence for me. Still, I am a ratepayer so arguably my view of how my council spends its money is just as valid as anyone else’s (and arguably more so than anyone who is not a Hobart ratepayer). Now as I said, I’m not a Christmas person, but I don’t object to others enjoying it (if only Archbishop Dennis Hart could get his head around this logic in other areas of debate), so I am far from against the carols event. However I am glad council does not wave a blank cheque for the sake of ‘tradition.’ If the economics don’t add up, I am glad HCC are looking for alternatives.
I am always reluctant to criticise services provided to me for free. Now obviously Hobart ratepayers pay for it in the long run so it is not really free, but unless there is some cost-sharing arrangement I don’t know about, residents of other municipalities such as Kingborough, Clarence and Glenorchy certainly are getting it for free- which is fine, but think twice before you whinge about free services.
Moreover, for those people claiming the HCC has ruined Christmas, do you need to take a moment? Maybe give one of the smaller carols events a try before you decide the council has erred, or maybe reflect on the fact that how you celebrate and make the most of the Christmas holidays is up to you. If you can’t have a great Christmas experience this year without Carols by Candlelight in its previous format, that is more a reflection of you than council.