Heritage has become a major election issue in Victoria with political groups across the spectrum expressing concern over the damage caused to significant buildings by publicly-funded infrastructure projects and private development.
Underlining the need to protect and respect Victoria’s diverse heritage, Simon Ambrose, CEO of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) urged candidates from all political parties to show their support for the future of heritage and share more information on their policies regarding local and state heritage issues.
Ambrose says that, “On our list is the reinstatement of funding for local heritage advisory services, which was scrapped in 2014.
“Gaps are now beginning to show in local government heritage protection, which in many areas of metropolitan and regional Victoria has not kept pace with development pressures and community values.”
The National Trust advocates for rigorous and systematic heritage review to inform heritage protection, with a strong focus on areas that are not well protected, such as post-war architecture and places of social significance such as pubs and theatres.
The illegal demolition of the Corkman Irish Pub (the former Carlton Inn) in 2016 became a flashpoint in the heritage debate, provoking widespread discussion about the government and developers not doing enough to protect the state’s heritage while bringing into focus the value of heritage to communities and the strength of legislation in place to protect it.
Proposed changes to the Federation Square continue to be a subject of concern to many Victorians.
The National Trust is also calling for an ongoing commitment to funding for the Living Heritage Program, administered by Heritage Victoria, to provide restoration funding for places on the Victorian Heritage Register.
Ambrose called on all political parties, ahead of the state election to show leadership in the custodianship of publicly owned heritage places such as the Mount Buffalo Chalet, which is one of many government-owned heritage assets that remain at risk.