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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1887

Mr MARLES (CorioParliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs) (12:24): Every city has its stories—tales of triumphant and tragedy, enterprise and energy that tell us where we have come from and shape our sense of who we are. Geelong is no different. Our stories give us a sense of belonging to a community, to a town and to a region. The building blocks for many of our stories—the primary source, if you like—are held on our behalf in the Geelong Heritage Centre, a treasure trove of local history that sits within Geelong's city library. Here we find records detailing the lives of Geelong's earliest residents. There is the original marriage register from Geelong's Christ Church, the oldest church in Victoria still on its original site. This precious book, dated 1853, contains the names and signatures of some of the colony's earliest pioneers. There is also a more unusual public record, the Meredith dog register. Dating from 1864, when dog registration became law, it provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the region's early farmers. There is an impressive collection of drawings by renowned Geelong architects Buchan, Laird & Buchan. In it are plans for some of our most significant buildings from the Geelong art gallery, opened in 1915, to the city library, which opened in 1959.

The heritage centre is also the custodian of a very precious set of more than 400 pressed ferns and licha pods gathered by one of the early curators of the Geelong Botanic Gardens, John Raddenberry. It is considered to be internationally significant. There are more than 100,000 photos, including a huge and growing collection of family photos donated by Geelong families over the past 30 years, and an almost complete set of the Geelong Advertiser—Victoria's oldest newspaper title and Australia's second oldest from its beginnings in 1840. There is a pair of 100-year-old Geelong Football Club socks as well as a scrapbook of sporting memorabilia dating from the 1890s and put together by Geelong West resident Louis Schweitzer. His vast collection of tickets, flyers and posters provides a marvellous step back in time. For those who remember with pleasure a visit to the old Bright and Hitchcock's department store, there is a wonderful collection of photos, clippings and memorabilia that spans the 120-year history of this much loved local business.

Last year the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, Simon Crean, announced that $10 million from the first round of the Regional Development Australia Fund would help pay for the rebuilding of the library and heritage centre. And the rebuilding development comes just in time. With its leaking roof and lack of space, the heritage centre has been struggling to do what we need it to do to keep our records safe. But in celebration of this, it would be wonderful if the City of Greater Geelong put on display in the library some of those treasures of our past. And so today I call on the City of Greater Geelong to do just that. A new heritage centre will allow the public easier access to the collections so that generations to come will share our knowledge and add their own and hopefully feel the same belonging to this great city that we do.