In the lead-up to the 2018 state election, we asked the major parties to tell us where they stand on heritage.
Dr Samantha Ratnam, MLC
MLC for Northern Metropolitan and Leader of the Victorian Greens
How will your party actively support communities to protect their heritage at a local level? The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) seeks significant and urgent funding to support local governments’ ability to identify and protect heritage.
The Greens believe in grassroots democracy and in local participation in decision-making and governing. We believe that local governments should be represented at all levels of planning, and local communities should have opportunities for ongoing, substantive and meaningful participation in planning decisions.
As a planning matter, local communities and councils play a key role in identifying and preserving heritage in their area. The Greens are dismayed by successive government cuts to council funding, and we believe local governments should have the resources to carry out their important role — including identifying and protecting heritage.
The planning system currently does not provide enough guidance or protection for how our cities and neighbourhoods maintain and enhance their cultural fabric. There is very intense pressure to redevelop even culturally important landmarks into residential dwellings without adequate consideration for preserving the historic and cultural heritage of an area. There needs to be more strength given to local councils and communities within the planning system to nominate and preserve buildings with heritage significance.
We have supported local communities fighting to protect iconic Melbourne institutions such as the Palais Theatre, the Palace Theatre, Federation Square and the Queen Victoria Markets. Our members have spoken about these sites in parliament, stood with the community at protests and meetings, and lobbied the government on their behalf. We will continue to help local communities protect their heritage both within and outside of parliament.
We are pleased with the interim heritage order for Federation Square, which puts on hold the commercialisation of important public space by Apple.
We will also encourage greater engagement with Aboriginal communities in the management of Indigenous cultural heritage and the return of Indigenous sacred objects and ancestral remains to the Aboriginal peoples who have responsibility for them.
Will your party support the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) to deliver important conservation work to our iconic Como House and Old Melbourne Gaol properties?
Victoria is rich in natural and cultural heritage. The Greens believe our heritage is a precious asset that should be respected and protected for current and future generations. We support continued conservation work to protect our cultural and natural heritage sites, including sites like Como House and the Old Melbourne Gaol.
Will your party commit to ongoing and increased funding for Heritage Victoria’s Living Heritage Fund?
The Greens support the Living Heritage Fund, as a program that provides funding to help the community identify, manage and conserve their heritage places. We support adequate funding for state-funded libraries, museums, galleries and archives for the development, maintenance, storage, conservation and exhibition of collections, and for the employment of sufficient numbers of properly trained staff, particularly conservation staff.
Will your party financially support the establishment of a Heritage Places Revolving Restoration Program, managed by the National Trust, to actively support the protection and adaptive reuse of at-risk properties?
The Greens support programs that conserve and protect heritage properties. However, we hold concerns about selling government-owned heritage places to private companies for redevelopment. We would like to see a revolving restoration program that ensures that any new use of a heritage property preserves the heritage character and features of the property and place.
Will your party commit to the transparent and responsible management of government-owned heritage places, including a commitment of funds for the restoration of Mount Buffalo Chalet?
The Greens believe government should be transparent and accountable. We hold deep concerns that developers and vested interests drive government decision-making, and that greed has threatened many of our state’s heritage places. We know that sites like the Palace Theatre could have been saved if the government had intervened, and that successive governments neglected the Palais Theatre and let it become so rundown that $40 million was required to properly restore it.
The Greens will act in the public interest and protect our public spaces and heritage places from being sold off to developers. We will also limit the influence that developers have over government by reforming our political donations system.