Friday 21 August 2020

Forum Celebrating 40 Years of the NSW Heritage Act

Yamba Cottage on Camden Valley Way at Narellan has been at the centre of community concerns around heritage matters in the local area for many years (Camden Images)

Luke Foley Announces Heritage Policy

At State Parliament on Tuesday, 18 April 2017, Opposition Leader Luke Foley made several announcements on heritage matters that the Labor Party will take to the next state election in 2019.

Amongst the announcements from  Mr Foley were:
1. Development of a 10-year heritage strategy for New South Wales that will be a roadmap for heritage management;
2. Restrict the s32 provisions so that the state government cannot plead economic hardship on heritage matters like they have on the Sirius project;
3. Restrict the ability of the Minister for Heritage to ignore recommendations from the Heritage Council;
4. Strengthen the provision of the Heritage Council;
5. Move the Office of Premier and the Cabinet Office into the old Chief Secretary's building on the corner of Macquarie and Bridge Streets.

For those who want to read the speech, click here

Heritage Forum Speakers at Parliament House

The forum was introduced by Shadow Minister for Heritage Penny Sharpe MLC and invited a number of speakers to reflect on the 40th anniversary of the Heritage Act passed into law by the Wran Government in 1977.

Speakers were:

1. Meredith Burgmann 

Meredith Burgmann is the former President of the NSW Legislative Council and co-author of the book Green Bans Red Union - the Saving of a City. She spoke about the history of the Green Bans in the 1970s in a legal environment where there were no legal protections for heritage matters.

She went on to outline: the development of resident action groups and the conditions conducive to developing heritage legislation in the 1970s.

These conditions included
(a) community activism around the Vietnam War,
(b) Anti-Apartheid,
(c) environmental issues, and
(d) anti-discrimination legislation.

2. Reece McDougall 

Reece McDougall is the former CEO of GML Heritage Consultants and Executive Director of the NSW Heritage Office from 2006 to 2008. He spoke on the history of the 1977 Heritage Act introduced by the Wran Government.

He maintains that the conditions that allowed the introduction of the Heritage Act included
(a) the legislation supported for the National Trust in 1960,
(b) international factors, including travel by Australians witnessing overseas activities, and
(c) the green bans.

McDougall also outlined the 1998 amendments to the Heritage Act that introduced the State Heritage Register and the advantages of having a separate heritage office in the state government.

Gilbulla is the house built in the late 1890s by JW Macarthur Onslow at Menangle built in the Arts and Crafts style  (Gilbulla)

3. Shaun Carter

Shaun Carter is the immediate past president of the NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects. He has organised a crowdfunding effort and taken the state government to court over the decision to demolish the Sirius building in The Rocks.

Carter spoke about the benefits to the community of retaining its built heritage. These included
(a) acting as a marker that allows stories to remember,
(b) containing cultural heritage, and 
(c) the need to know who we were and who we are.

Carter bemoaned the loss of the best of 20th-century buildings, and many are not listed on local heritage registers.

4. Paul Connell 

Paul Connell is the organiser for the Public Sector for the CFMEU, who led the campaign to save the NSW Heritage group within Public Works from privatisation, that is, keeping the Stoneyard at St Peters (Alexandria).

The Stoneyard is the home of the stonemasons who oversee the maintenance of the state government's stock of sandstone buildings.  The Stoneyard also has heritage roofing plumbers and carpenters who, until the Baird Government, used to work with the Government Architect.

The Stoneyard is the site of
(a) apprentice training in traditional trades,
(b) stockpiles of Sydney yellow sandstone, and
(c) the centre of WHS.

Former 1940s Stuckey Bakery building in Argyle Street Camden is an example of Camden Modernism (I Willis)

Originally posted 18 April 2017. Updated 7 August 2023.