See update here. Yesterday, Thursday 23 October, was another turbulent day in pre-election Melbourne as the fate of the childhood home of Gough Whitlam at 46 Rowland Street Kew hung in the balance. We were under the impression that the demolition of the house would continue so I dressed in black and went to the site about 1 pm with flowers to leave on the fence and so pay a suitable tribute to Gough Whitlam. (I called up lots of people as the Leader Newspaper said they would send a photographer.) Imagine my shock at seeing a media scrum in the street outside the wire fence with more cars arriving all the time. (Included at the end of this article are the NFIRB's guidance notes on foreign investment in real estate.)
Planning Minister Matthew Guy had just announced an "Interim Protection Order for the birthplace of Australia’s 21st Prime Minister, the late Gough Whitlam". (Hence the media) An application will be referred to the Heritage Council with a request to include the place on the State Heritage Register. The Minister's representative arrived and ceremoniously pinned the notice on the wire fence at the property. Channel 9, 10 and 2 were there plus the Age and the Leader newspapers . Thanks to Michael and Caroline Petit for representing community interests. A number of people turned up with a portrait of Gough Whitlam on the famous "It's Time" poster!
See the Age today 23 October 2014 by Mark Hawthorne, Clay Lucas and Nadia Wu. "Planning Minister Matthew Guy's backflip to save Gough Whitlam's childhood home."
See earlier Age article of 22 October 2014
I understand that under Foreign Investment Review Board rules, [See attached guidelines 2 and 3 at end of this article] a foreign buyer has two years to demolish an existing home to make way for a new dwelling. We have asked planning experts to investigate the current provisions for foreign purchase of residential real estate in Australia and the implications for the destruction of heritage buildings in our cities. The threatened destruction of Gough Whitlam's house has been a graphic example.
Action Alert: Someone attending the media gathering yesterday was told by workers on the site that they were packing up for the day but would return on Saturday to continue with the interrupted demolition. There is still a giant skip left on the site. (It was intended that the interior fittings including stained glass windows be removed.) Report any untoward work in progress to me on Mobile 0408022408 or Boroondara Police Station. I have mentioned to Boroondara Council these concerns. A number of people will be meeting at 11 am on Saturday morning on the nature strip outside the house to check out what's happening. So stop by! Bring a bunch of flowers to put on the fence. Melways Map Reference for 46 Rowland Street Kew is 45 H 7. There are few street signs so one can get lost!
Other important announcements yesterday in a day of planning madness include Planning Minister Matthew Guy's announcement that Royal Park (or what will be left of it after the EW Link is built) will be included on the State Heritage Register. We will be giving you more detail in the next bulletin. Also we are waiting to hear the results of Tony Murphy's Supreme Court action.