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To: Minister for the Environment and Energy - The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, Deputy Secretary Environment Protection Mr Dean Knudson, First Assistant Secretary Mr Stephen Oxley & Assistant Secretary Heritage Branch Chris Johnston
Heritage Housing Pain in Australia
Dear Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, Mr Dean Knudson, Mr Stephen Oxley and Chris Johnston,
The private property owners of heritage sites in Australia are struggling. It is not reasonable, fair, or ethical for the wider community to seek a benefit for itself and then expect one particular small group within society to carry the primary burden of the cost of providing that benefit – it is essentially theft from this small group’s own personal asset base for their financial future. When hit with such a large financial burden, it is inevitable that heritage listed properties will encounter more neglect. There is no question that our historic heritage is important and needs to be conserved, but this should not be at the expense of an individual’s life savings and should actually be based upon a system that works!
'As a consequence of little financial assistance, it has been estimated that on current trends a substantial part of Australia’s remaining historic heritage will be lost through demolition and neglect between now and 2024' (Australian Government Productivity Commission, 2006, Conservation of Australia's Historic Heritage Places - Productivity Commission Inquiry Report No.37, Canberra, Media and Publications Productivity Commission, p.164, Box 7.1)
We would like Australia’s heritage system to be updated to reflect more progressive heritage systems that work well to preserve a country’s built heritage. Examples of more progressive heritage systems can be found at http://heritagepainoz.my-free.website under ‘Good vs Bad Heritage systems’. There are well run heritage systems where private property owners are clamouring to get their property on their national heritage register! Compare this to Australia where there is a lot of resistance to heritage listing by private property owners.
In essence we would like the Australian Government to put an end to Heritage Pain in Australia by
1)Updating Australia’s Heritage Act 1995 to be equal to the laws in other First World Countries who are fair to both the public interest as well as the rights of the private property owner. Owners of heritage listed properties in Australia need to be paid adequate compensation for the loss to their financial future – just like heritage owners in some other countries.
2) Providing ongoing adequate financial support and good tax incentives to encourage heritage conservation, and encourage people to nominate their own properties for listing (this system CAN work - just click on 'Good vs Bad Heritage Systems' at http://heritagepainoz.my-free.website to learn how).
3)If the cost of compensation for an individual property is too great, then instead of that cost being borne by either an individual or the government, this property should be digitally recorded instead of being formally heritage listed.
Why is this important?
Australia's heritage system is set up so that certain individual property owners are forced to bear the costs of heritage conservation for the rest of the general public. It is not fair, or ethical and some people are cracking under pressure of this large financial burden. The individual heritage property owner is often put at a large financial disadvantage through serious devaluation of property price (by over 25% on average calculated by Herron Todd White – Australia’s largest independent property valuation and advisory group in Australia) (Australian Government Productivity Commission, 2006, Conservation of Australia's Historic Heritage Places - Productivity Commission Inquiry Report No.37, Canberra, Media and Publications Productivity Commission, p.164, Box 7.3), higher maintenance or restoration costs due to the requirement for specialised tradespeople, additional administrative costs, limitations on the ability to modify or adapt the property and limitations on the ability to develop the site. What usually then occurs is that heritage listed properties are often neglected and run into disrepair. So, not only does Australia’s heritage system cause financial devastation to hundreds of families, but it doesn’t even work to conserve our heritage!
This needs to change. There are more progressive heritage systems employed by other countries (in particular Colorado, USA) which work, and Australia needs to follow their lead. Their private heritage property owners have adequate financial support and great tax incentives, so people try to nominate their own property to be on their national heritage register! People look after their heritage property because it is in their best interests to. This is unlike the situation in Australia where heritage funding is minimal and therefore the reliance is on owners of heritage properties to pay for all/most of the bill and suffer the devaluation in their property value. Resentment against heritage listing is increasing in Australia, and without financial help people will naturally neglect their heritage listed property because it just costs too much. It's time to take a stand, so please support our campaign by adding your name below and click on on 'Good vs Bad Heritage Systems' at http://heritagepainoz.my-free.website to learn more.