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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5957

Mr MARLES (CorioParliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs) (16:21): I have spoken in this House before about the richness and beauty of Geelong's built heritage. Our bayside is blessed with many fine buildings that chart its history as a 19th century trading centre. One of the best examples is also the one that defines our city most completely: Eastern Beach. This Art Deco bathing precinct is quite simply iconic to our city. Built in the 1930s to provide a safe swimming environment for beachgoers, its beautiful Art Deco structures, children's wading pool and shark-proof swimming enclosure tell the story of a beachside town that even in those years was both a lifestyle destination and a welcoming holiday spot.

In the days before cars, Eastern Beach was the place to go swimming. It could handle 10,000 bathers and had its own tram connection to the city. These days, cars have made the Surf Coast beaches more accessible. There are also more municipal pools and backyard pools, but Eastern Beach has not lost its allure. During the summer months its grassy slopes are covered with groups of picnickers, its pools filled with swimmers and the dive tower crowded with teenagers. Over the last couple of years, and work is continuing today, restoration works have been undertaken, such as the new dive tower, the new seawall and the rebuilding of the children's wading pool. A large part of this work has been funded by the federal government in cooperation with state and local governments, because we are all committed to ensuring Eastern Beach continues to provide enjoyment for generations to come. With these works, Eastern Beach is starting to look a treat.

Back on 27 May 2009, I first called for Eastern Beach to be included on Australia's National Heritage List. At the time I noted that there was nothing in Geelong included on this list, which really is a huge gap in the National Heritage List, given Geelong's very significant contribution to our nation's history. Eastern Beach, I believe, would be an excellent candidate. So today I am thrilled to be able to report to the House that Eastern Beach has been nominated by the City of Greater Geelong for inclusion on the National Heritage List. If successful, Eastern Beach would join the Great Barrier Reef, Bondi Beach, Kakadu National Park and Echuca Wharf as places of national significance to our heritage.

Earlier this year, in April, the Great Ocean Road was rightly added to that list, giving the Greater Geelong region a presence on the list for the first time. It is my sincere hope that Eastern Beach, in the heart of Geelong, will also meet the criteria of the assessment panel. It is a process that will take some months, but we have made the critical first step. Having Eastern Beach added to the National Heritage List would tell the rest of Australia what we have all known for decades. Eastern Beach is used and it is loved. It is one of our city's greatest icons and greatest images. As the MCG is to Melbourne, Eastern Beach is to Geelong. It is the story of us and our city.