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Thursday, 16 March 2000
Page: 14937


Mr SECKER (5:40 PM) —I find it very interesting that the Leader of the Opposition would come here tonight and suggest that we use a United Nations convention to override the Western Australian state laws. I would be amazed if the Western Australian government or the Western Australian people would agree with that notion. The Leader of the Opposition needs to get up in this parliament and say that he will not use the United Nations convention to override a duly elected state government.

I rise to speak tonight on another matter that has been of great concern to the citizens of Victor Harbor and surrounding districts. Because Victor Harbor is one of South Australia's greatest tourist destinations, especially for the people of Adelaide, this matter also has implications for many people outside the district. It concerns a proposal put before the Victor Harbor Council to demolish one of its oldest buildings, known locally as Clifton Lodge. It is of enormous heritage value, and the proposal is to demolish it to make way for other developments, which have not been specified but could be for parking or specialty shops. This does not seem to be in the best interests of all concerned.

Ephraim Weymouth is a very famous name in South Australia's history, especially when it comes to architecture. Apart from building Clifton Lodge in 1895, Ephraim Weymouth was also responsible for building the Victor Harbor Library in 1862, the Newland Congregational Church in 1868 and the entrance lodge for Mount Brecken in 1877. It could be said that Ephraim Weymouth was one of the founding fathers of the beautiful seaside town of Victor Harbor. In fact, in very recent times the building has been successfully used as a respite centre, and I believe that the local state parliament member, the Hon. Dean Brown, has come up with a proposal from the state government to purchase the building on behalf of the state and return it to use as a respite care centre. If that is the case, he and the state government should be congratulated on their commonsense approach and solution to this vexing problem. However, the developer who owns the property rejected that proposal, as is his legal right to do so.

I am reliably informed that the Victor Harbor Council spent over $30,000 of ratepayers' money in 1997 to commission a heritage survey of their beautiful town, and they should be congratulated for this initiative. Unfortunately, in their next budget they did not allow for the cost of initiating the necessary amendments to their planning controls because of budget constraints and higher priorities. They have allowed for that necessary amendment this year, but unfortunately this will be too late for Clifton Lodge, and even the state heritage department could not do anything because Clifton Lodge is not on the register yet. Under the state planning laws, demolition of an unlisted building does not require consultation, and in fact nothing in this development needed consultation. So it is to the council's credit that they did go through a consultation process when there was no legal requirement to do so. Unfortunately, there are now a lot of people angry over this issue because the council was virtually forced to approve the demolition because of their legal advice that they could not hope to win an appeal by the developer if the council did not approve the proposal.

It is a salutary lesson to all local government areas to ensure that their heritage areas are preserved for our future. Far too many of our historic buildings have been lost to development in the past and we must ensure that no more are lost in the future. Heritage is an important issue and we should be proud to preserve our past so that the present can prevail and the future can be enjoyed.