Heritage on the Hill- the Heritage Bill
The new Heritage Bill that recently passed through the house on the hill is now law, though the house on the hill in Perth does not look like the proposed drawing above.
With the new Heritage Bill, we were promised a Heritage Act that was better, and an improved Heritage Council. But the new Heritage Council remains a great disappointment, a developers’ club that will continue to be weak and ineffectual. The Minister insisted on half of the members being women. While equality of opportunity is essential, equality of outcome is odious.
Twenty years ago, members of Parliament were busy debating the Heritage Act, 1999, and for weekend reading, you might like to peruse below what was said by various parliamentarians.
Of Fremantle relevance are the Honourable Mr Thomas’s comments about the Synagogue in Fremantle and the importance of using it as the forecourt to a Football Plaza. Two Labor legends, John Tonkin and John Curtin, are discussed, and some of the politicians making comment such as McGowan and MacTiernan, are still rather active today.
HERITAGE BILL 1999 Second Reading – Cognate Debate Resumed from 21 October.
MR BARNETT (Cottesloe – Leader of the House) [4.03 pm]: The Heritage Bill is significant. The Minister for Heritage is currently absent but he will return shortly and in the meantime I will listen to the contributions made to the second reading. Heritage is a somewhat vexed issue and there are a number of heritage matters in my electorate.
Mr McGowan: Is this the “speech for all occasions”?
Mr BARNETT: Members may be interested to know that my last newsletter was entirely devoted to the heritage issue.
Mr Pendal: A very strong contribution.
Mr BARNETT: Indeed. A heritage issue which has been of interest to me is that while we all notionally like the idea of preserving old buildings, heritage must be functional – a building must have a use. There are examples in my electorate of old homesteads, particularly on the beachfront, which have heritage orders attached to them but some of the requirements of the heritage management plan can be so onerous that they make it unattractive for people to buy and renovate these properties. My personal view is that heritage should primarily apply to the exterior of buildings. I am talking about private property rather than public property and in the case of private residences, there should be greater freedom to renovate the interior of a house to make it suitable for modern family living. The existence of heritage orders makes it almost impossible, in an almost bizarre way, to buy and internally renovate several properties in the electorate of Cottesloe. There are prospective buyers who will happily restore to the letter any requirement relating to the exterior of a property but do not have the freedom to make the house practical to live in. Anyone who will spend $1m or $2m to restore the exterior of these properties clearly values heritage; he will not do anything internally which is absolutely at odds with heritage. These people need greater flexibility. The irony of this situation is heritage legislation and heritage management plans are in place to protect the buildings but they can work in a dysfunctional manner. The owner cannot sell a property – no-one will buy it – so the building is allowed to decline and deteriorate. Several properties in my electorate are exposed to ocean front conditions and are simply falling down. The owners will sit back for two or three years while the houses fall down and then redevelop the land. That is not the intention of the current owners or prospective buyers. They would rather see the properties sold or redeveloped. There are buyers in the marketplace who will buy these properties and restore them beautifully to an extraordinary standard as long as there is some flexibility to make internal alterations. A lot of the buildings have many small bedrooms and pokey spaces and people want to open them up inside. They do not necessarily want to keep a fireplace in every room. They want to put in modern heating and those sorts of things to make the house practical to live in.
Mr McGowan: There is that flexibility at the moment unless the heritage integrity results in something architectural inside or there was some sort of historical event or a significant person lived in the property which makes it inconsistent with heritage values for that to take place.
Mr BARNETT: I know that is there – I do not purport to be an expert on heritage as a concept or this legislation – but in two or three examples in my electorate I would argue that the fabric of heritage administration is contributing to the demise of heritage buildings.
Mr McGowan: Your house may one day be a heritage site.
Mr BARNETT: My house is listed on the Claremont heritage register. It is a famous old house.
Mr McGowan: Do you support John Curtin’s house in Cottesloe being listed?
Mr BARNETT: John Curtin House is an interesting example. My good friend, the member for South Perth, gave me several instructive addresses on heritage and John Curtin House. However, as members would be aware, the Commonwealth and State Governments have jointly purchased John Curtin House, which is very modest.
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Dr Constable: Is it staying there?
Mr BARNETT: It will stay on the site. A heritage and management plan is currently being developed for the property. A most likely scenario is it will be used for visiting fellows to Curtin University of Technology and will be open to the public over several weekends, probably mid-semester. However, while the house can be lived in, the kitchen and bathroom areas are literally of the 1940s. In my view, it would be preferable if an annex could be built at the back of the house to allow a modern bathroom and kitchen to be constructed to stop the use of some of the building while the living and bedrooms areas could still used. The plan is currently being assessed.
Mr Pendal: I hope this does not adversely affect your career but I have to say that your intervention and the result for John Curtin House was a superb outcome particularly in keeping it on site. Had those other people succeeded in shifting it off the site, its heritage value would have been almost nil.
Mr BARNETT: The member is overly generous because initially I favoured moving the property to Curtin University. An advantage of that would have been the property could have been restored and all of Curtin’s original furniture – which the university has; his paintings, books and records – could have been returned to the house and it would have been a museum in a true sense.
Mr McGowan: Why couldn’t that be done at the moment?
Mr BARNETT: I do not believe it is realistic. It is a modest house among what are now larger houses in fairly valuable real estate. It will look a little anomalous but that is fine; it can stay there. However, it is unacceptable to put valuable records and artefacts in it in a non-secure position. I was attracted initially to relocation to Curtin University of Technology, where I believed it could be truly part of the Curtin centre. However, I bow to the experts’ opinion – and the member for South Perth had much to say to me about this – that it should stay in its area, and I accept that. Given that it is now staying in Cottesloe – as the local member I am not upset about that, it is great – there is an issue of how to effectively use it, which is not obvious. Curtin University’s idea of having visiting fellows live there has much merit, as has the idea of having limited periods for open days which is similar to Gallop House that has regular open-day weekends. It is all right to whack a heritage order on a building to preserve it – certainly John Curtin’s house should be preserved – but how to effectively use and maintain that building is another matter, as I cannot imagine people queuing to visit John Curtin House. It is suggested that the Labor Party may want to conduct forums there occasionally; I would support that. I am sure one could find Labor Party members outside the Cottesloe electorate, but not many inside, who would attend those forums!
Mr McGowan: You might like to acquire some neighbouring properties and erect some structures so that we could organise that.
Mr BARNETT: No. The member for Perth is frequently seen in my electorate on Sunday mornings at North Cottesloe Beach.
Ms Warnock: I admire the heritage bathing facilities, the old showers, down there.
Mr BARNETT: The member for Perth should not say that or it will be listed! Does the Opposition have its next speaker ready?
Mr McGowan: We are scintillated by, and loving, your exposition on the Heritage Bill.
Mr BARNETT: I will send the member for Rockingham a copy of my newsletter in which he will find my philosophy on heritage.
MR MARSHALL (Dawesville – Parliamentary Secretary)[4.12 pm]: I challenge this Heritage Bill with its consequential provisions. The house in which the late John Tonkin lived, in Preston Point Road, which has a magnificent view, has come to my attention in the past week. John Tonkin was a neighbour of mine for 20 years, a former Premier of this State, head of the Labor movement and, in my opinion, one of the all-time greats of his profession in this State. The house was sold a number of times in the past five years and the people living in it currently have applied to the East Fremantle Town Council for permission to extend it as they are having a second child. The council has rejected their application on the grounds that the house could receive a heritage classification. I have lived there all my life and I cannot see how the house could be classified as heritage; John Tonkin’s garden was certainly capable of classification. He was not only a humane and community-minded person but also the president of East Fremantle Football Club, which made him even more notorious, but his garden was his hobby. I used to see him out in the front yard toying with his roses and his favourite camellias; he was well known for what he did in that garden. He invented a reticulation machine which was dug into the ground about nine inches with a hose going through the instrument which saved water by watering the roots. I believe it was patented and sold around the world. When John Tonkin was in his garden, people going past in their cars would toot their horns. It is well known in this House that I was a tennis professional at the East Fremantle tennis club, which is directly across the road and below John Tonkin’s house. As every car tooted, I waved thinking they were tooting at me, the well-known tennis professional. However, after the tooting had occurred 30 or 40 times, I looked up, realised that honest John was in the garden – a great credit to the man. However, they were not tooting his house but, rather, his garden. Suddenly the East Fremantle Town Council is saying that anything that has been in East Fremantle for a long time can be classified as heritage. I challenge the interpretation of “long” relating to time. His house was not a house of special architecture; it was a normal brick and tile house like all the other houses in that mid-1950s era. It is difficult for me to accept that the council can say to the new owners of the house that as John Tonkin lived there, it may be classified as heritage and they cannot extend the house, even though they are anticipating a new infant and they need an extra room for their family. I admired John Tonkin
and, as a hobbyist, it was his garden, not his house, that people tooted at and were proud to acknowledge. Similarly, up the road, there is a clinker brick house and I am told that the council is looking at that as a potential heritage listing. There is another house that has a letterbox made of crossed racquets. Three months ago the lady who runs the tourist trams in Fremantle rang the proprietors of the house to ask if they would paint the crossed racquets as they were becoming part of the East Fremantle tourist and heritage trail. I could relate to the House for the next 30 minutes about how a letterbox can become heritage. As the minister is not present in the Chamber, I will mention it because it is important. The letterbox is outside my former house. In winter 1958, when I became a professional tennis player, I was jogging around East Fremantle Football Club with Harry Regan. He said, “How are you going?” I said, “I have the bookings but I’ve been rained out. I can’t get a quid, Harry.” He said, “You’ll be on the side this week, you’ll get £8/10/- for playing for East Fremantle and when you play, Con will kick the ball to me, you come down into the back line and I will kick them to you, and we will all be in the ‘best players’ and we will all get £8/10/-.” It worked and I played for the rest of the year with football keeping me alive. A few weeks later, jogging around with Harry, I said, “As soon as your children are old enough, I will give them their first racquet and coach them free of charge.” He had 10 children and my son is still coaching his grandchildren free of charge. When I built my house in 1961, he gave me a letterbox of two crossed racquets with a ball in the middle to take the mail. I said, “Harry, you cannot afford that.” He gave me a wink and uttered a word with which I am now familiar but with which my father in the goldfields was even more familiar. He said, “She’s right mate, it’s a foreigny.” Of course, the materials were from the firm where he worked and he built it in the firm’s time, but I accepted it with great pleasure. About two years later, a car came around the corner and flattened the letterbox. Harry used to train his race horse along Preston Point Road and was the only man I know who had stabled a horse in the metropolitan area, such was the infamous nature of the Regans and the Neeshams.
Mr Barnett: There was a horse stabled in a backyard in Claremont until about two years ago.
Mr MARSHALL: That is another one. One north of the river and one south of the river is a good balance. Harry saw the letterbox knocked down and the next day he rang me and told me he had another one ready for me. I told him that the ball in the middle of the racquets was too small for my business and asked whether he could make a box to take packages, which he did. That letterbox is still standing there and we meet people in the street – and the member for Perth will know – who, as children, went to Perth just to gaze at the clock striking in London Court. There are adults in Fremantle who tell me that as children they used to ride their bikes past John Tonkin’s garden, wave to him and then ride past our house to see whether the crossed tennis racquets letterbox was still there. That is something that has heritage value, and I agree with that. Those crossed racquets are symbolic of the biggest tennis academy in Australia – one of the biggest sport educators in the district. However, I cannot understand why the young family in John Tonkin’s house cannot get permission from the council to extend, because it “may” be classified as a heritage building when in fact it is just a standard house. The gardens at John Tonkin’s house had heritage value, just as the letterbox at our ordinary house now has heritage value. People from the Tourism Commission go by and say, “There is the letterbox. The coach coached Margaret Court on those courts, and there is John Tonkin’s house. He was a former Premier of the State and president of the East Fremantle Football Club.” Everyone in East Fremantle is very proud in the “one mile square”. Another instance that comes to mind is the Peninsula Hotel in my electorate which has been one of the true landmarks of Mandurah. I can recall in the mid 1950s, as footballers, we would all go down to the beer garden at the Peninsula Hotel on Sundays. In those days we had to go to the country where beer licences were allowed on Sundays as there was no drinking in the metropolitan area. People from the East Fremantle Football Club and the like would assemble there on the Australia Day long weekend. There would be 300 to 400 people at the Peninsula Hotel. They would scoop some crabs and cook them in the car park. It was a wonderful way of life. The owners have been trying to develop the Peninsula Hotel to complement the new 500 pen marina which is planned just around the corner. Situated a kilometre to the right of the Peninsula Hotel is the performing arts centre, which cost $1.2m; a cinema with six theatres, which cost $800 000; and a boardwalk which boasts an ice-cream store, Cicerello’s, a coffee shop and a duty free shop – how that got in, I do not know. On the waterfront are four boats which take people to watch the dolphins or go on canal visits and the like. A kilometre to the left of the hotel it is planned to construct the $220m, 500 pen marina which will provide employment through the hospitality and tourism industries and a tremendous income to the area. However, the Peninsula Hotel had to be altered to a four-star category so that it could be upgraded. For the past two or three years we have been trying to stop a heritage seal on the Peninsula Hotel. It has been holding up proceedings. Sometimes I find that situation too difficult to fathom and that is why I like the consequential provisions Bill. There must always be an edge to life. We cannot just say that it is black and white. Mandurah, which has the highest proportion of unemployment among adolescent teenagers, needs employment. For an untrained, unskilled person, the hospitality industry is one of the easiest areas in which to learn and get employment. It is foolhardy to delay the creation of this precinct that will draw people into the area, by saying that the Peninsula Hotel, which has been the drinking hole for everybody over the years, could be of heritage value. To their credit, the heritage people have just decided that Stingray Point will be the area of heritage value. Stingray Point is the grassed area that spills out from the Peninsula Hotel to the waterway. People on the waterway can look from the old bridge to the new bridge and right up to the Peel Inlet. It is a beautiful site with trees which have been there for 80 years. It is a picturesque place. Every Australia Day we hold our citizenship awards in Mandurah and 60 or 70 people are made citizens of Australia. It could not be held at a better place than Stingray Point. How Australian can one get? How heritagified can one get? In this instance, the definition of “heritage” is being looked into and it is holding up progress in this area. It is also detracting from tourism, employment and the variety of ways in which we can attract people to Mandurah. It was declared that Stingray Point would become a heritage area and that the Peninsula Hotel could be revamped into a four-star hotel. I still have questions about the definition of “heritage”. It cannot be black and white. There are grey
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areas that need this consequential provision and I am very pleased that this will be discussed in this second reading debate.
MR GRILL (Eyre) [4.26 pm]: Heritage touches us all. It touches nearly every electorate in Western Australia in one form or another. As a consequence, most of us have some sort of interest in it. My interest certainly is not professional and it certainly is not profound. This is quite extraordinary. I have never spoken to a completely empty set of government benches. Normally, of course, the minister handling the matter is in his seat. However, on this occasion, not one person on the government side is in range of his or her seat.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mrs Hodson-Thomas): Thank you for pointing that out, member for Eyre.
Mr GRILL: Having noted that most peculiar situation, which has just been rectified to some degree –
Mr Masters: There was somebody on the government side, but I was just about to leave.
Mr GRILL: The member for Vasse dashed across for a second or two. Certainly, when I spoke a minute ago there was no- one on the government side. As I was saying, heritage touches us all. I do not pretend to have any great knowledge about it, but I have taken an interest in it over the years. I became interested in heritage in 1970 when I went to Kalgoorlie not for the first time, but to live. At about that time the eastern goldfields was experiencing the nickel boom. It was a most extraordinary boom. It garnered the imagination of all Western Australians. I do not know of anyone who did not buy some shares during the nickel boom. No matter where one went or to whom one spoke, there was some mention of shares and the sorts of nickel shares one should buy. A whole range of nickel and exploration companies sprung up. Most of them had no substance in the final analysis, but they all had pretensions of getting out there and getting sniffs of nickel. That created an electric situation in Kalgoorlie- Boulder and one of economic growth. There was some substance to that boom in the sense that Kambalda got off the ground in a short period and a new town was created. A number of big nickel deposits were found in the eastern goldfields from the north to the south. It changed quite dramatically the economic climate in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Up until that time, Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the towns around it had been in steady decline for 40 or 50 years, probably from the beginning of the century. The gold industry had declined from the heady heights of the 1890s, had taken a real shock during the First World War, had a better period during the 1930s and the Depression when the value of gold escalated, took a further heavy shock during the Second World War and then continued to decline afterwards. The nickel boom really started in 1967, but it was at its height when I and my wife-to-be went to Kalgoorlie in 1970 when I became a partner in a law practice. At about that time, because of the changing economic circumstances, there was a view that the main street of Kalgoorlie could be revamped with a whole range of new buildings. The Swan Brewery, which was then a big owner of hotels in Western Australia, decided to acquire two hotels in the town. One was acquired before that time and the other at the time. One was called the Oriental Hotel and the other the York Hotel. These two very old hotels were to be demolished and a brand new 1970’s style hotel was to be constructed on not only the two lots which were occupied by the Oriental and York hotels but also on several pieces of land in between, which were fairly narrow shopfronts. I did the negotiations on the acquisition of one of the shops and the starting price was $15 000. Ultimately, I completed the deal for the owner of the shop at $183 000. That was in the days when one could buy a Ford Falcon for $2 500. However, it gives us some idea of the sort of economic hubbub and expectations that people had at the time. The Oriental Hotel was to be one part of the new hotel in the sense that the block it occupied would be the basis of the new hotel and the shopfront that I negotiated for was to have the lift well on it. Further down the street the York Hotel would form the other side of the hotel. All of that was to be demolished and a new huge six or seven-storey, 1970’s construction would go up and we would all be very proud of that. By and large that was the case. The Kalgoorlie Town Council, as it then was, welcomed the concept, passed the plans and everything was set to commence. However, a few people in town recognised that the hotels had heritage value and they should be retained and protected. A number of those people got together and at that time, I took the leadership role. There were a number of demonstrations and a march down the main street. We were aided by –
Mr Barnett: Last time I saw you demonstrate you had a sack over your head.
Mr GRILL: I do not know about that. Where was that?
Mr Barnett: When you were demonstrating against the gold royalty.
Mr GRILL: I do not think I did. There might have been some other people, but certainly not me. Nonetheless, we had a march around the time that the demolition contractor was moving in to knock over the Oriental Hotel. The Oriental Hotel was the most interesting piece of architecture ever put up in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. It was really exotic and from that exotic architecture came the name “Oriental Hotel”. It was an intriguing piece of architecture. The York Hotel is still there. It is a less intriguing piece of architecture, but is still a substantial hotel with a fine goldfields flavour to it. It is a two-storey, attractive and graceful building. We had the march and said all the things that we should have said about the desecration of heritage, but the protest went nowhere. We had an anonymous helper that night in true traditional goldfields style. A few sticks of gelignite were used by the anonymous helper to blow up the equipment belonging to the demolition contractor. We never found out who that person was and I was intrigued that the police never interviewed me over the matter, not that I had anything to do with it.
Mr Barnett: How long did they look?
Mr GRILL: What I am saying is that I was not under suspicion! It was a tremendous loss to lose that substantial building from the main street of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. The Oriental Hotel is no longer there and the 1970’s monstrosity did not go ahead. We lost the Oriental Hotel, the most interesting building in town. That is to the long-standing lamentation of many people who have any regard for heritage. That awakened my interest in heritage and I have since thought about these matters. The other matter that struck me at the time was the town of Kanowna, once in full bloom as an operational mining town about 20 kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie through the 1950’s and the early 1960’s. When I went to Kalgoorlie to live in 1970, my fiancé and I went to look at the area but there was nothing left. It was bare. A few street signs had been re-erected by the historical society, but there was nothing else. This town, which once had a population of 20 000 people, and several hotels and a brewery, had been totally demolished and carted away when it had been operating only a decade or two earlier. When we first went to Menzies in 1970, there were a number of gracious buildings in the main street, most of which are now gone. One or two are left and there has been a belated interest in heritage. The rather interesting shire building and town hall have keen kept in addition to the railway station and hotel. All the other wonderful buildings have gone.
Mr Bloffwitch: Have you seen Gwalia?
Mr GRILL: Gwalia is another matter but it is interesting. It was where the workers lived. It was Leonora’s twin city and was where the commercial activity of Leonora-Gwalia was conducted. Gwalia was outside the mining activity. It was a workers’ town and most of the buildings were made from corrugated iron. When I first went to Leonora, a number of people were living in Gwalia in those corrugated iron structures, some of which have been retained. It is to the great credit of David and Elizabeth Reid who, in the early 1970’s, realised that this was a treasure trove of mining equipment and miners’ shacks and they started their heritage work there. Since then a number of people have been involved. The Sons of Gwalia mine has put in a lot of money. A lady called Maxine Cable who used to be a councillor in Boulder but originally came from Leonora now lives there and has done a huge amount of work to preserve the area. There is something left at Gwalia which gives one something of the flavour of how workers actually lived at that time. The majority of buildings have gone. The same applies to so much of the eastern goldfields where at the turn of the century the bulk of the population of Western Australia lived. They looked upon Perth as the government on the coast, but nothing much more than that. The gold rush built the Perth that we know as well as most of Fremantle. Most of Fremantle is still there but it was built as a result of the gold rush. Many of the wonderful residential buildings in Peppermint Grove are goldfields architecture.
Mr Barnett: Some of it is due to the pastoral industry as well.
Mr GRILL: Some of it is due to the pastoral industry but the real catalyst was the gold industry. All of that, lamentably, is not as intact as it should be and much of it is demolished and gone. I looked in Boulder when I first became a member of Parliament, and saw a lovely fence around a property in one of the southern streets. I asked where the fence had come from, and was told by the owner that it was the old fence from the Murrin Murrin cemetery. The man had been allowed to pick it up, without any penalty, and transport it from the cemetery and erect it around his property. That was the mentality that applied in those days. If people moved out of Kanowna, other people moved in and suddenly demolished all the buildings and took them away. In marked contrast to that is Victoria. It is fabulous in what it has retained in its goldfield areas.
Mr Bloffwitch: Ballarat is an example.
Mr GRILL: Yes, Ballarat and Bendigo are wonderful and gracious cities built on the basis of the gold discovered in the 1850s and 1860s. There are quite a few smaller towns and in many ways they are more attractive, and add a wonderful flavour to the goldfields in Victoria as it stands today. In places such as Maldon, Yackandandah, Beechworth, Castlereagh and Eaglehawk there might be between 1 000 and 2 000 inhabitants. By and large, the towns remain intact; they are still gracious and are monuments to that day and age. In Western Australia very few such towns survive. A member earlier mentioned Greenough where some buildings remain. Some money is being spent in Greenough for heritage restoration and so forth. York and Perth have some heritage buildings, but many have been lost. In my first year at Collie High School I was taught by a French teacher who always tried to broaden our outlook and inform us that there were other things outside the mundane things we understood in the small mining town of Collie. One day she referred to St Georges Terrace and said that there were some wonderful boulevards in France, but we should know that St Georges Terrace was thought of as one of the great boulevards in the world. That came as a considerable shock to me. It was true, but since then those wonderful low level structures that adorned St Georges Terrace have been demolished. The current architecture is mainly new and shiny, and made of glass, steel and aluminium. St Georges Terrace is a wind tunnel. It does not look much different from the architecture in many American cities and many other modern cities around the world. It does not reflect the heritage of WA and what it has been through to be where it is. On the other hand, in Paris a great effort is made to restore buildings. It has high-rise buildings but it is hard to find them in the centre of the city. Paris, which is probably the most beautiful city in the world – other people may have different opinions on that but it is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in the world – is beautiful because of its planning and the retention of so many old buildings, monuments and things of that nature. During the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s Western Australia had an ethos that if something was not new it should be pulled down. I remember when the Court Government sanctioned the pulling down of the Barracks.
Mr Barnett: It was the Brand Government.
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Mr GRILL: Yes, the minister is right; it was the Brand-Court Government. I could never understand that even then, although I did not have a profound understanding of heritage issues in those days. I remember my early days as an articled law clerk when the decision was made to bowl over the Esplanade Hotel. Anyone who saw that hotel, or has since seen pictures of it, will recognise that it was an absolute jewel. It was beautiful, and it transported one back to New Orleans with its wonderful architecture using cast iron, wrought iron filigree work, railings and posts. The inside of the building was beautiful. Invariably, the legal profession congregated in a particular bar lined with jarrah from 5.30 to 7.30 pm on Friday nights. It was a wonderful tradition. The hotel was bowled over, and what is in its place? A piece of very square and ordinary aluminium and glass. It does not reflect our heritage and the old building is a lamentable loss. I can point to more recent examples of the loss of heritage and architecture. This area is one of relative neglect by this Government and previous Governments. Some Governments were absolute wreckers in the philistine way in which they encouraged new development at the cost of old architecture and the graciousness of some of the old buildings. My colleague Megan Anwyl will speak shortly and will attest to the fact that the Railway Hotel in Kalgoorlie was destroyed in circumstances which were quite unwarranted. The Railway Hotel was built opposite the current railway station. The station is a very old and lovely building, but it was complemented by an equally old and nice building across the road – the Railway Hotel. It had significance as it was part of many of the important events in the initial gold rushes. It fell into the hands of a particular owner who did not have the ability to renovate it after a fire partially destroyed it. It then fell into neglect and was occupied by vagrants, damaged by vandals and was the subject of a second fire. After that second fire the Kalgoorlie-Boulder council obtained an order for its demolition. It should not have operated in that fashion. It spent between $80 000 and $100 000 obtaining that demolition order, more out of pique with the owner than the belief that the hotel should be bowled over. It spent that money on lawyers’ fees to get a demolition order against that truly historic piece of architecture. The second fire was the catalyst for its ultimate demolition, because it made the building unsafe. At that time I requested the Premier, Richard Court, and the Minister for Lands to visit Kalgoorlie and see whether they could rescue the hotel. At the end of the day, after receiving advice from their experts, although there was sympathy for the process of restoring the building, they took the view that it could not be done and it was allowed to be bulldozed. I have been to Munich and other places in Germany where the city centres were reduced to rubble during the Second World War. However, today those buildings have been reconstructed with the same bricks they were originally built with, and they look the same as they looked prior to the war, having been reduced to ultimate rubble by bombs during that war. I do not know why we cannot do that. Of course, the Railway Hotel was probably in a dangerous state when viewed by the Premier and Minister for Lands, and it probably was on the brink of falling over. However, if that building had been in France or Germany, it would not have been allowed to fall over and money would have been invested to restore it. People in Western Australia do not appear to want to do that. They have an accountant’s view of heritage and its cost. At the end of the day it comes down to a matter of dollars and cents. The cost of renovating the Railway Hotel was probably more than it could have been sold for when restored. That was the abiding concern at that time. Hopefully in the future, the dollars and cents approach will not be all pervasive. I repeat: If that building had been in Europe – in Germany, Italy or France – given its historic nature, it would have been restored and public moneys would have been provided to do that. I refer to another recent example. When the railway line went in between Kalgoorlie and Leonora during the gold rush period, a whole range of railway stations were built, and some were very attractive pieces of architecture. One was featured in the movie Nickel Queen, with Googie Withers and Mr Laws, of 2UE fame, who has been in the media a lot lately.
Mr Thomas: Senator Lightfoot was in that movie, too; wasn’t he?
Mr GRILL: I think he was. A lot of the goldfields’ characters were in the movie. It was all about the nickel boom and the rush that followed it. The central building around which the movie was filmed was a lovely, old railway station. The film was released and it was a big success. Within a year or two of its making and showing, the railways authority decided it was not prepared to continue the insurance on the building to cover public liability risks, and the building was bulldozed. All the stations up and down the line which were about 90 years old then were bulldozed in the same way. People who wanted to take the masonry, the bricks and stones from the buildings could simply go out and pick them up. I went out and picked up some which was used in my home at that time. What a terrible loss, and all because the then Western Australia Government Railways was not prepared to pay the public liability insurance premiums on the buildings. Even more recently, as chairman of the Goldfields Tourism Association, at the behest of the association, I wrote to the Minister for Transport about the Goongarrie cottages, which are a remnant of the railway station and the town. Those cottages were left after the railway station was bulldozed and have been used by prospectors and miners ever since. Unfortunately, they are falling into disrepair and the railway authority has not been prepared to put any money into their restoration. We decided to write to the Minister for Transport to request that those historic cottages be transferred to the Menzies Shire in which jurisdiction they were placed. I got a letter from the minister indicating that, although he would be prepared to contemplate a transfer of those buildings, the Heritage of Western Australia Act precluded such a transfer until the buildings were renovated to a suitable standard. I wrote to him again and asked him to do that so the transfer could be done. He responded that he was not prepared to spend the money. I twisted his arm, and we got a couple of thousand dollars and the assistance of a voluntary group to go up and put a roof on one of the buildings and do some preservation work on another. The minimal amount of work would be done to enable them to be transferred to the Menzies Shire. What a momentously short-sighted view by the Minister for Transport in this matter. We have irreplaceable pieces of our heritage. On one hand the railways authority is not prepared to pay a small amount each year to cover public liability insurance; on the other, the Government is not prepared to pay a small amount
of money – it would have been greater than the $2 000 given to the voluntary group – to ensure the buildings are in reasonable condition to comply with the heritage Act to allow the transfer to the shire to occur. This represents an attitude of the Government, government agencies and people within government. The culture is completely wrong, and we must change it. I see the member for Cottesloe looking at me with some amazement, but I assure him this is happening on this very day. I am sure he believes it should not be going on; he is probably not aware of it. Priceless pieces of our history are being lost simply because of the culture within government – much of this heritage comes within government areas at the moment – which is penny pinching, and subscribes to the economic rationalist model: If it does not pay, bulldoze it and pull it down. In France the attitude to heritage is 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Vast amounts of money are spent on their towns, townscapes, monuments and old chateaux, and they reap a harvest from it. Our architecture is not as old as that; however, it is unique and tells a story. Much of what is left can be a considerable tourist attraction, such as the buildings in towns in Victoria. Quite frankly, as long as the culture remains at it is in Western Australia, we will lose these buildings.
Mr Barnett: I will ask a serious question: What would your attitude be to the old brothels in Hay Street?
Mr GRILL: One has been knocked down. This is a very murky area because it is very hard to say how we get a building permit for something that is illegal. This situation is unfortunate.
MS ANWYL (Kalgoorlie) [4.56 pm]: First, I will make some general comments about the attitude of my constituents to the whole concept of heritage and why it is extremely necessary for the State Government to facilitate and resource a proper understanding by Kalgoorlie-Boulder residents of what the concept of heritage means to individual property owners, business owners and business management committees if their buildings are placed under a heritage order. There is a lot of concern and reservation by those who feel they will have their property rights somehow infringed upon by their property achieving the status of a heritage building. In the long term, those people will realise that the value of their properties will be enhanced by that status. The fact is that there is a recession in the goldfields at the moment and a number of property owners are very concerned that their ability to maintain those buildings will be interfered with. I will use as an example the recent restoration of some of the buildings at the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Racing Club. A concern has been expressed by members of the racing club committee that the method of maintenance and restoration required was more expensive and onerous and in some ways less efficient because of the requirements of the Heritage Council of Western Australia.
Mr Grill: It wasn’t that long ago that the wonderful, old Ledger grandstand was bulldozed.
Ms ANWYL: I endorse the general comments of the member for Eyre that too many buildings have been lost to Kalgoorlie- Boulder. It is very important that people, particularly those with property interests, are assisted to realise the benefits that can be bestowed by a heritage ruling, rather than their seeing the negatives of it. I think the Kalgoorlie branch of the Liberal Party gave some publicity to this matter a while ago. A general report is still under consideration, which talked about establishing precincts within Kalgoorlie-Boulder according to the suburb and the historic significance of different types of dwellings. There is a lot of concern and perhaps misinformation about just what it entails. Until recently there was a full-time position at local council attached to this issue of heritage, but I understand that position does not exist at the moment. There have been visits from the Heritage Council. I have given members the example of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Racing Club, but recently I was approached by a member of the management committee of the Hannans Club, which is unique to Kalgoorlie-Boulder because it was built as a gentlemen’s club, although, fortunately, gentlewomen are now allowed in the doors and can be members. That club is in a beautiful building, and I hope that building can be preserved and that proper consultation will take place with the management committee so that it will get behind the concept of having a building that is heritage listed. Heritage is extremely important not only to existing residents and future generations but also because of its economic spinoff, which is tourism. People from around the world and Australia tell me continually that the people of Kalgoorlie-Boulder do not seem to realise what a fantastic asset they have in the streetscape of their main street, Hannan Street, because of the number of old buildings that have been preserved. From time to time I am approached by local shop owners and the like who would rather have different types of facades which they perceive as having greater commercial advantage; for example, with a greater number of advertising hoardings and the like. However, the overwhelming number of the comments are that we must do everything we can to preserve the existing facades. There is a pro-active aspect to that, because we can also encourage people whose buildings have lost that historic advantage to use historic replica facades when they are renovating or rebuilding. The goldfields has yet to come to terms fully with the concept of heritage tourism, and we could be doing more than we are doing. I recognise the efforts of a number of people who are certainly involved in ensuring that our heritage is preserved. Kalgoorlie-Boulder has a very active historical society and genealogical society, and the tourist association also does a lot of valuable work. Some members may not be aware of this, but in 1938, the then Shire of Kalgoorlie financed the first Olympic swimming pool in Western Australia. That swimming pool was opened in the summer of 1938, and it had hundreds of thousands of visitors in each pool year in those days. There had been a small swimming pool on the site of the Victoria Gardens. Unfortunately, those gardens no longer exist, but the boundary of the old pool is signposted and can still be seen, and it forms part of the Kathleen Day Playgroup. The 1938 pool was a unique specimen of the Art Deco period, and the Art Deco Society is full of praise for the heritage value of that pool. Many swimming athletes and divers and all kinds of water sports enthusiasts travelled from all over Australia to train in that Olympic pool, because it was the only one in Western Australia and only the second Olympic pool in Australia. The first Olympic pool in Australia is at Milsons Point,
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Sydney, and is now an extremely successful swimming pool and commercial venture. I have had the privilege of swimming in that pool a number of times. It is located underneath Sydney Harbour Bridge and has a wonderful outlook.
Ms MacTiernan: Is that the one on the North Shore?
Ms ANWYL: Yes. That was the first Olympic pool in Australia, but the Shire of Kalgoorlie in those days had the foresight to build this other Olympic pool. That 50 metre pool was closed last season, and while another fantastic year-round facility has been built, it is a source of great regret to me that Kalgoorlie-Boulder will not continue to operate the first Olympic pool in Western Australia. However, as a result of a great deal of active lobbying, the council has agreed to keep the Kingsbury Park aspects of the complex open, which means that a water playground and water slide will be available for children over the course of the next summer. The council has also foreshadowed that it will build another outdoor complex alongside the existing indoor facility. Therefore, it was with some pleasure that I heard recently on the local news that the Government has made a commitment to upgrade the Bunbury outdoor pool complex, because no doubt pledges will come from each of the major parties with regard to the new outdoor pool that is now required in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. I believe that in the long-term we will regret the decision not to keep this pool open. As I have said previously, I recognise that the council is between a rock and a hard place because a great deal of administrative cost is associated with keeping the pool open. However, I believe that we could have looked to alternative funding sources and that we could have raised funds across Western Australia, given that Kalgoorlie-Boulder has such special significance to many families across Western Australia and Australia because they or one of their relatives have spent many years in Kalgoorlie-Boulder in the past. All levels of government should consider the need to conserve heritage not just by looking at bricks and mortar but also by enhancing the prominence of historic figures by way of statues and other sorts of public monuments. Earlier this week I addressed a group of year 6 students at St Joseph’s Primary School, and I was very interested that when I asked some of the students what they thought was lacking in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, a number of the girls mentioned the need for more parkland and fountains. Kalgoorlie-Boulder does not have any fountains, which does seem odd given that there is not much water and it is essentially a desert town, and I was extremely pleased that one of the very bright young people in that year 6 class who at first said she would like to see a fountain with a fish looking out from it then piped up later and said, “I have thought about that. I do not want to have a fish. I want to have something for Mr O’Connor, who brought the water here to the goldfields”. I thought that 10-year-old child had a very impressive view and grasp of history, which is something from which adults could learn.
MR THOMAS (Cockburn) [5.08 pm]: I wish to use the opportunity of speaking on the Heritage Bill to raise heritage nature matters which are of concern to me. The first matter is the redevelopment of Fremantle Oval in the electorate of my colleague the member for Fremantle, and I am sure he will not mind if I transgress into his territory in speaking on a matter to which I have some commitment. The second matter is that I believe we in this place should give recognition to those members of Parliament who died while on active service during World War I and World War II; and I will return to that matter in a moment. On a number of occasions in this House and elsewhere, I have raised the question of the status of Fremantle Oval as a heritage site, in particular the Victoria Pavilion – the grandstand as it is normally known – and the potential for Fremantle Oval to be enhanced as the second home of football in Western Australia. Fremantle Oval is the only football oval of which I am aware that can be described as being in the central business district of a city; that is, in a built-up urban area. As a consequence, Fremantle Oval has an atmosphere that is unique in comparison with other football ovals of which I am aware. In addition, it has significant heritage value in that it is the site of the Victoria Pavilion – a grandstand which dates back to the turn of the century – and has a number of historical connections not only to football but also to other civic occasions associated with Fremantle and the State. I understand from a heritage report commissioned by the City of Fremantle that troops paraded before the Victoria Pavilion as they left Australia for the Boer War; therefore, the grandstand dates back to at least the turn of the century. I also understand that prior to that, the ground was a sports field associated with some barracks and before that it was the garden of Fremantle Prison. The area is recognised as being part of one of the most significant heritage precincts in Australia, including Fremantle Prison and other buildings. Fremantle Oval is currently significantly underutilised in terms of present use and recognition of its heritage values. Heritage buildings can become stale unless they are used. It is all very well to preserve historic buildings but it is so much the better if they have a current use, preferably one which is consistent with their historic value. For most of its existence the historic value of Fremantle Oval has been as a football field. The greater potential for the development and enhancement of Fremantle Oval to recognise its heritage value has come about because the Fremantle Dockers, the second Australian Football League team in Western Australia, has decided to locate its home at Fremantle Oval. That can lead to the oval having a new use and future which will see it well into the next century, its second. For all of the past 100 years, Fremantle Oval has been the home of the South Fremantle Football Club – an organisation of which I am proud to be a member. That organisation is celebrating its centenary this year. If members visit the oval, they will note that the entrance to the South Fremantle Football Club premises is dated and does not have any heritage value in itself. The area immediately to the south of Victoria Pavilion where one enters the oval is an eyesore and does not provide the appropriate honour to the Victoria Pavilion and the site. I have suggested to the City of Fremantle and the Fremantle Dockers – and I will continue making this suggestion to anyone who wants to listen – that the area opposite the markets which constitutes the entrance to the Fremantle Oval should be redeveloped as a football square; an area which would commemorate the role and place of football in the heritage of Fremantle. I have suggested that the centrepiece of the square should be a statue of the famous mark John Gerovich took over Ray French in 1957. The photograph of that mark is one of the best football photographs ever taken. It has been reprinted internationally – it was in Encyclopedia Britannica for a time – and is a splendid piece of photography and artistry. In my view, it would make a great statue and statement at the entrance to that area and could be the centrepiece of what I have designated as football square. I have gone to the trouble
of commissioning an architect to design some landscape work on how that area could be developed. The area could be developed using not only that square but also the adjacent land. The adjacent land fronting out onto South Terrace is the site of the old Fremantle synagogue and that in itself has heritage value. The leader of the Jewish community in Western Australia in the early part of this century was a gentleman named Elias Solomon. He was one of the founding officeholders of the Fremantle Football Club, as the South Fremantle Football Club was originally known. Mr Solomon is the person after whom Solomon Street in Fremantle is named but he also has an association with this House. He was a mayor of Fremantle in the 1890s and he served in this Parliament as the member for South Fremantle from 1892 until federation in 1901. In that year he entered the federal Parliament and served as the first member for Fremantle of the House of Representatives. He was the leader of the Jewish community in Fremantle. The old synagogue backs onto what I have designated football square which is currently car park No 16 in the City of Fremantle and it is an eyesore. That building could be developed as the headquarters – the office premises and shopfront – of the Fremantle Dockers Football Club. It is presently a restaurant – although from my observations not a particularly commercially successful one – but the building is owned by the City of Fremantle and I hope that in due course it could be made available to the Fremantle Dockers Football Club to be developed as the shopfront, the public front, of the club. The land behind the building and adjoining the South Fremantle Football Club’s premises could be developed as a square and the entire area opened up to extend what is known in the vernacular as the cappuccino strip, the recreation area of Fremantle. That district could be extended south of Parry Street and make Fremantle Oval the real attraction it could be. South Fremantle Football Club will continue to have its headquarters and to play at Fremantle Oval which means the oval will be a working football oval and not just a museum or a training track for an AFL team. It would be so much better if the South Fremantle Football Club’s premises could be redeveloped as is necessary. That work could be done in conjunction with the redevelopment of Fremantle Oval to recognise its place in the heritage of Fremantle and Western Australia as one of the major football venues in Western Australia and one which should be recognised. The statue of Gerovich and French would be a great centrepiece. It is a piece of sporting and social heritage. Many members would be aware that John Gerovich played for South Fremantle during the 1950s and 1960s. He commenced his football career at the age of 16 and worked in a clerical position at Fremantle Hospital for most of his working life. He was very much a part of the Fremantle community. Ray French, the person over whom Gerovich took the mark, was an industrial worker in the area and was killed in an industrial accident some years after the mark and photograph were taken. It is sporting and social history which should be recognised through public art in the area. I commend this proposition to the Dockers, the South Fremantle Football Club, the City of Fremantle, the Government and anyone else who could be involved in the realisation of the project. It is one that has merit. My second proposal concerns the Parliament itself. I am pleased to see that Mr Speaker is in the Chamber because following this speech I will be writing a letter to him to make a suggestion about an aspect of the heritage of this Parliament which should be recognised. Twice this year I have had occasion to attend conferences in the New South Wales Parliament which were held at least in part in its Legislative Assembly Chamber. I noted that in the Legislative Assembly of the New South Wales Parliament there is a plaque which commemorates the members of that House who were killed in active service during wartime. I think one part of the plaque is for the First World War and another for the second; I am not sure of the details. However, many people are not aware that during the world wars it was, I gather from my cursory reading of that plaque and the records of this place, the practice of the New South Wales Parliament and this Parliament to pair members who joined the forces and went off to fight in those wars. I believe that many people who have visited the Parliament, and many members, would not be aware that members of Parliament of an appropriate age were eligible for military service. The Parliament facilitated their service in the military forces by granting them pairs. Visitors to Parliament should be made aware of this aspect of the heritage of the Parliament and attention should be drawn to that fact. It is therefore appropriate to recognise, in the precincts of the Parliament, people who died on active service. Members would be aware, particularly from living in the community as members of Parliament with roles in their electorates, that it was common for war memorials to be erected in districts to recognise people from those districts who were killed in active service. It was also common practice in workplaces to recognise people who were killed during military service. The Minister for Energy would no doubt be aware that in the foyer of the Western Power building – the old SEC building – there is a plaque containing the names of SEC employees who were killed during World War II and, I think, also World War I. I recall a plaque in the Commonwealth Bank in Perth. Most members could probably recall other workplaces, in addition to districts, where recognition was given to people who served during the war and paid the supreme sacrifice. Since visiting the New South Wales Parliament this year, I have taken the opportunity to cursorily read the records of this Parliament. I have found that in World War I, Bartholemew James Stubbs, the then member for Subiaco, joined the Australian Imperial Force on 29 January 1916. He was killed in Belgium in infantry action on 21 September 1917 when he was still the member for Subiaco, having been elected to the Parliament in 1911. Recognition of that fact should be given. Mr Stubbs was obviously a very interesting person. He was a tailor by trade. An entry in the biographical register notes that he was active in the foundation of Western Australia’s tailors’ union, vice president and president of the Trades and Labor Council – obviously a Labor member – and member for Subiaco until he met his end in World War I in 1917. It is fitting that there be an appropriate monument to such a person. My reading of the records also revealed that a gentleman called John Verdun Newton was, interestingly enough, the Labor member for Greenough. My cursory glance at the records revealed that he was probably the only Labor member ever for Greenough. He was preceded by a Country Party member. As most members will be aware, John Newton was succeeded by Sir David Brand, who was a long serving Liberal member for that area and the State’s longest serving Premier. Mr Newton’s service is interesting because he joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1941 and was reported missing over
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Germany on 14 January 1944. However, he was elected to Parliament only on 20 November 1943. Obviously, he stood for that position and was elected while serving overseas. He was obviously held in high esteem in the electorate that he was elected to represent. Two months later, presumably having never taken his seat, he went missing in action, presumed dead. From my understanding of the brief notes in the biographical register, a panel was eventually appointed on 28 August 1945 to inquire into whether there was a vacancy in his seat, as he was only missing, his body having never been recovered. The seat was eventually declared vacant on 27 September 1945, obviously after the war was over and a decent interval had followed when it was thought, presumably, that he might be found. These are two very interesting stories that should be drawn to the attention of people who visit this building. Their attention should also be drawn to the fact that members of Parliament were not exempt from the opportunity to serve in the military and, in particular, that at least those two people paid the supreme sacrifice in those circumstances. I will be writing to the Speaker, in his capacity as the chairman of the Parliamentary Services Committee, to suggest that an appropriate plaque or edifice be placed somewhere in this building so that those two individuals are commemorated, and inform visitors of the fact that serving members of Parliament served in the armed services during those wars.
MR KIERATH (Riverton – Minister for Heritage) [5.26 pm]: I thank all the members who have contributed to this debate. I intend to take into account some of the comments made and to make amendments to the Bill.
[Leave granted for speech to be continued at a later stage.]
Debate thus adjourned.
APPROPRIATION (CONSOLIDATED FUND) BILL (No. 3) 1999 APPROPRIATION (CONSOLIDATED FUND) BILL (No. 4) 1999 Cognate Debate
On motion by Mr Barnett (Leader of the House), resolved – That leave be granted for the Appropriation (Consolidated Fund) Bill (No. 3) 1999 and the Appropriation (Consolidated Fund) Bill (No. 4) 1999 to be debated cognately and that the Appropriation (Consolidated Fund) Bill (No. 3) 1999 be the principal Bill. Declaration as Urgent
MR BARNETT (Cottesloe – Leader of the House) [5.28 pm]: I move – That these Bills be considered urgent Bills.
MR KOBELKE (Nollamara) [5.28 pm]: The Opposition will oppose these Bills being made urgent as we must put on the record the problems that the Government is currently having in dealing with legislation. The Government second read these Bills only two weeks ago. Standing Order No 168 requires that three calendar weeks elapse before the resumption of their second reading. The Opposition welcomes the opportunity at any time to debate these Bills; they give members an opportunity to speak on a wide range of matters relating to their particular interests for their electorates. However, these Bills are being brought on now because the Government does not have any legislation with which to deal. This Government is without purpose or direction. It was elected six and a half years ago because the Labor Government had lost the confidence of the people. However, this Government had no agenda to look after the interests of Western Australia and advance the welfare of the people of this State. It put in place the McCarrey review and, on that basis, set about privatising and contracting out on a wholesale basis. Now that has come unstuck. It has led to a deficit of $640m in this year’s budget. This Government does not know where to turn. It has no agenda. It has no legislation. It is divided internally, lethargic and moribund and cannot bring legislation into this Parliament when a range of urgent issues must be dealt with. The Government has been promising prostitution law for years. The Government has not been able to do anything about de facto legislation. The Government has promised to bring into this Parliament legislation covering a range of issues, but it cannot get those issues through the party room. Western Australia has the worst record of road traffic fatalities of any State in Australia. However, this Government is simply unable to deal with it because it cannot get the party room to agree to new legislative measures. That is the reason this legislation has been brought on early. The two pieces of legislation relating to culture, libraries and the arts, which we debated last week and with which the Government does not wish to proceed are on the Notice Paper. That legislation has run into major public opposition. The Government cannot get its act together, and so we cannot deal with those Bills. The Opposition is ready to deal with them, but the Government does not know what to do with them. The member for South Perth moved to send the legislation to a committee, and we are waiting for the Government to respond to that. The heritage legislation has also run into problems. The minister must now draft amendments to it and so the Government is not ready to deal with the Heritage Bill.
Mr Kierath: We are not having problems. I can continue with it if you want.
Mr KOBELKE: We were ready. We were happy to go into Consideration in Detail with the Heritage Bill, but the minister is not ready. The minister must get approval for a range of amendments. The Rights in Water and Irrigation Amendment Bill is still on the Notice Paper. We understood that the Government did not wish to treat that Bill as urgent because it had run into difficulties. The Government has been consulting the respective interest groups on two different issues which have arisen because of this Bill. We are still waiting on a briefing that we were promised but it is obvious that the Bill is not ready to be dealt with. The Parks and Reserves Amendment Bill was introduced in 1998 – over a year ago – and for some reason,