TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Minister for Planning,
Justin Madden. As we know, Victoria’s heritage is recognised as one of the
state’s competitive strengths, and investment in the restoration and maintenance
of heritage is returned in economic, social and environmental benefits. Can the
minister update the house on how the Brumby Labor government is taking action to
preserve and protect Victoria’s heritage, particularly in the Portland region?
J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Planning) — I welcome Ms Tierney’s question. I
know she has a particular interest in this matter because it was only a week or
so ago that Ms Tierney and I visited Portland to inspect a number of
heritage buildings and sites and to open a number of those buildings as well,
after their having been refurbished.
People there were very complimentary not only about this
minister but about one of the other ministers here and the work he had done only
a week before in relation to the pier down at Portland. There was a great deal
of enthusiasm from the local Glenelg council in relation to this government’s
investment in that region.
What we have is a great collection of heritage assets in
Portland, and some of those are in public ownership. What is significant about
those assets is that they reflect much of the first settlement of Victoria, so
it is great to see that the people take such pride in them and also want to see
investment in them. We have been able to complement that investment.
On that particular occasion we visited History House, which is
the old town hall. We visited the drill hall and got the drill on the drill
There was a very impressive presentation by the local council
on the outstanding work it is doing at the drill hall. This complements other
assets down there, like the Portland Botanic Gardens and the Ruth Martin
Memorial Restrooms, which I did not get a chance to look at, but I hear that
building is used by the local community radio station.
But can I say great work is being done down there at what is
known as History House with the refurbishment of what was the original Portland
town hall — a bluestone building. It was not a very large one; it was
relatively humble in terms of town halls that we might see these days, but it
has been restored to its former glory and now houses the Portland Family History
Group and the Portland Historic Society. What is very impressive about these
groups — —
Mr Lenders interjected.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN — It is funny that the minister should
mention that, because the great thing about these volunteers is that they spend
an enormous amount of time looking after historical documents in the town hall,
and they are very good at data management. The great thing is you can go to the
town hall and tell them your family name and they will look up your family name
and see if you were one of the original settlers there. I suppose if Mr Wells
went there and said, ‘I am Mr Wells; do you have any historical data on me?’,
one of the things they would probably be able to do is find the relevant
documents. The great thing about finding those relevant documents, as volunteers
Mr Drum — On a point of order, President, minister after
minister is getting to their feet and blatantly criticising the opposition, and
it is happening with every question that every minister is addressing.
The PRESIDENT — Order!
The issue of criticism relates to overt criticism of either the
individual or party concerned. I do not believe we are at the stage where it is
overtly critical of — —
Honourable members interjecting.
The PRESIDENT — Order! I hear the comments
on my left, but it is not overtly critical.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN — Somebody like Mr Wells could go there and
ask whether members of his family were first settlers in the Portland region,
and they would be able to trace through their data management systems and go to
the historic documents. One thing they would not do is cut and paste from a
previous computer document a year or two old. What they would do is go looking
for copies of the original document, the original one, and they would be able to
find out what the real story was as opposed to one that was just copied from a
year or two ago.
What we saw there was not only these great volunteers doing
great work but also beautiful refurbishments of much-appreciated public assets
that allow community groups to use them in a very helpful way, in a way that
really complements the needs of not only their local community but also tourists
and visitors to the area. I recommend to members of the opposition that they go
down and see these volunteer groups and how good they are with historic
documents. In addition it really adds to the vibrancy of the community, the
tourism potential and builds on the reputation of all of Victoria as a great
place to live, work and raise a family.