Skip to content

Tasmania’s Hydro-Electric Commission (HEC) and the Franklin Dam (A) 2005-75.1

24 November 2005



In December 1981 Tasmanians went to the polls to vote in a referendum on a plan to build a major hydro-electric power project on the Franklin River. The project had been the subject of a heated campaign for three years between Tasmania’s HydroElectric Commission (HEC), a public authority with significant autonomy and a mandate to develop projects which met the island state’s power needs, and the state’s increasingly well-organised conservation movement. Voters were asked to decide between the HEC’s Franklin Dam proposal and a compromise scheme with less environmental impact known as the Gordon-above-Olga option. The result was 47 percent in favour, 8 percent for the compromise and 45 percent voting informally. The HEC and the Tasmanian Government faced some very difficult questions. The environment movement was building clear momentum, while business and union lobbyists were pushing hard for the Franklin Dam project to be funded and for building to commence.

This case looks at a major infrastructure project coming up against a well-organised opposition group. It can be used to discuss public policy in a volatile political environment. Part A describes a history of the project proposals and the lead up to the inconclusive referendum.

Read more:

Authors: Tim Watts
Published Date: 24 November 2005
Author Institution: ANZSOG
Featured Content Length: 3
Content Length: 11
Product Type: Part A, Primary resources