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Securing one of the best

Monday, 5th May, 2014

Milton Lavers shows off his grand mineral collection. Milton Lavers shows off his grand mineral collection.

By Peter Black

The Milton Lavers mineral collection is the finest and last Broken Hill mineral collection remaining in private hands.

A broad consensus exists to the effect that the collection should remain in Australia; a further consensus exists that it should remain in Broken Hill.

Over Easter I attended a four-day Gatton (Queensland) Gemboree. This gemboree was the 50th of the annual event. Older citizens might recall the 1975 and 1983 (Broken Hill Centenary) Gemborees which were held in Broken Hill. 

The Gemboree venues alternate between the States; the 2015 Gemboree will be held in Horsham, Victoria, 2016 in Tasmania, 2017 in NSW (probably Bathurst), 2018 in SA and so on. 

The national Gemboree attracts numerous visitors and involves an annual gathering of many of Australia’s movers and doers in the Earth Sciences.

Last year our City Council accepted my offer to try to rescue the Milton Lavers collection for Broken Hill, with the view that the main portion be permanently exhibited in the rear section of the GeoCentre, earlier attempts by City Council being unsuccessful. 

In early conversations subsequently it became apparent that it would be necessary to form a “Friends of the Milton Lavers Collection” organisation with a Board of Governors vested with ownership of the collection, as well as the responsibility for driving the acquisition process.

Costs associated with the requisite display cases and associated materials will need to be considered in addition to the cost of acquisition; the collection has been valued by City Council at $1.1 million, but no price has as yet been negotiated with Milton Lavers.

A further purpose in forming a Board of Governors is to protect the collection, so as to avoid any threat by the current Council or a future City Council to dispose of the collection or part thereof.

Two leading Australian identities have indicated a potential interest in membership of the proposed Board; a one-page proposal in this matter over my signature is in circulation.


I) While driving to and from Queensland large numbers of caravaners were observed camping in off-road rest areas equipped with toilets and a water supply. A new phenomenon.

Locally our tourism industry continues to languish. Last Wednesday night City Council accepted that the annual visitation rate has been reduced to 150,000. The glory days of the Legion Club and Fritz Angst driving overseas visitation to Broken Hill are long gone. It continues to be of concern, as noted by the State Government, the paucity of young couples (without children) visiting our City.

2) Put aside Sunday afternoon May 25 for the Muso’s Club Philharmonic Society Concert. Music continues to be the soul of Broken Hill.

3) The initial adoption of a 12th straight budget last Wednesday night was force majeur, and arises from financial mismanagement of City Council for a number of years. Certainly it is nonsense to claim that “we” are “heading in the right direction” by adding to accumulated debt which includes, as most citizens are keenly aware, a lack of asset maintenance. Residents however may be assured that your Council cannot go broke - an administrator is appointed before that occurs.

If Mayor Wincen Cuy had accepted my offer to chair a finance committee at the commencement of the current Council term, citizens may be assured that the requisite staff restructure would have been substantially in place by now and savings made. No doubt the Audit Committee which will meet this Thursday has a monumental challenge on its hands.

4) ICAC certainly scored a significant collateral victim in the form of Premier Barry O’Farrell, who was regarded by both sides of politics as a man of honesty and integrity.

The consequence of Mr O’Farrell’s decision to resign has been a massive lurch to the Conservative Right within the parliamentary Liberal Party with the election of a “God Squad”-promoted Michael Baird to the position of Premier.

Barry was the leader of the “small l” Liberal faction. His preferred candidate, Gladys Berejiklian in a deal between the factions, accepted the Deputy Leadership of the parliamentary party.

Broken Hill citizens need to brace themselves for the privatisation of essential services, with the loss of our cross subsidies.

5) While at Gatton the slogan “Together We Shop, United We Prosper” was noted in shop windows. I do not believe that the opening of the Coles complex will generate any additional shoppers in Broken Hill. What will help is a collective decision to give the locals a go before heading to the internet.

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