Melbourne By-Election and Heritage

The Melbourne Times Weekly ran a story yesterday in which each candidate for the seat of Melbourne in this Saturday’s by-election for the state seat of Melbourne was asked their views on various issues. One of these was on heritage and we have collected their responses below – to see the full story please visit the Melbourne Times website. It is heartening to see the question of heritage being raised and it is good to read that most candidates seem to wholeheartedly support heritage protection and think that more needs to be done. It is particularly encouraging to see some candidates calling for reform of the planning process and of Heritage Victoria, something MHA has been lobbying for and an indication our message is getting through. You can read our case for the reform of heritage protection in the CBD here MHA CBD reform 20 July 2012 (pdf).

Question: Is heritage being protected adequately in the Melbourne electorate? Will you fix what is broken in heritage protection?


Michael Murphy, Democratic Labour Party

Heritage protection is a balancing act. Private buildings including homes and commercial architecture are community assets and need protection.

Demanding restoration of heritage buildings and transport at the cost of private owners can be burdensome on owners whose means may allow them to retain but not restore our heritage.

Assets listed for protection must be exemplars of a particular element of our heritage, and must be in such a state as will allow their retention without their reconstruction.

John Perkins, Secular Party of Australia

It is important that heritage buildings be protected. This can be achieved by ensuring that development is appropriate and consistent with maintaining our heritage, without which Melbourne would cease to be such a desirable location.

Cathy Oke, Greens

The Greens will fix the flaws in the planning scheme, so that we can have heritage values better protected.

Local councils are responsible for protecting locally significant buildings but they need the planning minister to sign off on their rules. We have many state significant heritage buildings in this area and decisions about those go to Heritage Victoria.

In our view, Heritage Victoria needs reform, to make it more accountable, transparent and accessible to people who want to have a say on changes to these buildings. I’m also really proud that Greens federal member Adam Bandt secured $20 million to protect the Royal Exhibition Building, which is World Heritage-listed.

For example, some developers buy heritage properties then let them go to ruin, which becomes the justification to demolish these architectural treasures of our city. Councils need to address these threats and the state government can assist by setting the right guidelines.

Dr Joseph Toscano, Independent

No response.

Adrian Whitehead, Independent

Heritage should be protected.

Patrick O’Connor, Socialist Equality Party

I would seek the advice of residents, historians, architects and others involved in heritage work.

Fiona Patten, Australian Sex Party

In some areas it is and some it’s not. Allowing a grand old rock music venue like the Palace Theatre to be pulled down would be unforgiveable.

Kate Borland, Independent with a ‘save public housing’ policy

In general I am in favour of protecting our architectural heritage. Why do we continue to sell off and destroy all the wonderful history told through the bricks and mortar of our past? Our buildings and environments should remain as a template for future generations.

Ashley Fenn, Family First

Although our heritage is only young, appropriate examples should be protected and preserved, but just because it is old doesn’t mean it is good. Melbourne needs to have a clear plan to identify and protect valuable heritage sites while also clearing the way for less important sites to be appropriately redeveloped. This lead to a balanced rental and housing market and reduce the cost of living for Melbourne residents.

Berhan Ahmed

Generally heritage protection is not bad. However, there is too much emphasis on facades, as if historic interiors were not important, too. Also developers can be allowed to neglect maintenance to the point where the building can be unsalvable. In many cases, facilities such as libraries, art and community centres could be moved from soulless modern structures to renovated historic buildings. People are happier using and working in a building with genuine life than a drab, bland space, even if that is purpose-built.

Maria Bengtsson, Australian Christians

We believe our heritage is vitally important and will support restoration.

Jennifer Kanis, Australian Labor Party

As a local councillor, I have been a long-term advocate for appropriate development across the City of Melbourne. Ensuring suburbs maintain their character and ambience is an imperative in the planning system. But I haven’t just advocated this view – I’ve worked to implement it.

As a councillor, I have been instrumental in ensuring that a thorough heritage assessment for Melbourne is undertaken.

It is important that as Victoria and Melbourne grow and regenerate, development is done sustainably and in a way that ensures people have adequate access to important community services such as schools and health services, and transport options.

David Nolte, Independent Candidate

I am concerned about heritage protection. My policies respond to this issue and reflect my appreciation of our history and the need to ensure future generations understand how our community came to be. High on my list is giving respect to the two remaining scarred trees in Melbourne and changing the state’s official history of Terra Nullius to reflect the truth that Wurundjeri elders signed a treaty with Batman for the founding of Melbourne. There is lots to fix about heritage protection and I will do what I can.

Stephen Mayne, Independent

Heritage protection for Melbourne’s Federation suburbs is vital. Heritage assessment and advice need to be conducted independently from DPCD (Department of Planning and Community Development), although the ultimate decision-making powers should rest with councils and the state government.

Gerrit Hendrick Schorel-Hlavka, Independent

We must protect our heritage so those who come after us can have the same to enjoy as we do, but we also have to strike a balance so it is reasonable, and not ruin unduly a (long-term) property owner. Previously I objected to a property development in Little Bourke Street but ended up being the only objector. I was concerned about the destruction of what was there. Often, time limits may be so short that people may not notice the proposed building development until it is too late to lodge an objection.

David Collyer, Independent  (Candidate for the unregistered Australian Democrats)
We don’t look after already-identified heritage sites well enough. Regulation isn’t enough; these sites need resources. Again, tax reform would make an enormous difference – heritage site landowners would pay less and be able to upkeep.

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