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‘Powerful forces’ surround city bid

Tuesday, 10th June, 2014

Hugh Gough says Broken Hill could make history again and should not miss the chance. Hugh Gough says Broken Hill could make history again and should not miss the chance.

By Craig Brealey

Broken Hill could soon make history as the first city in Australia to be listed as a national heritage site, but there are some powerful forces against it, says a member of the former tourism advisory committee.

Hugh Gough wrote a letter of support for the listing to the Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, and is now urging anyone who cares about their home town to let Mr Hunt and the government know that’s what they want.

He said the tourist industry was flagging but if Broken Hill could claim the honour of Australia’s first heritage city, the publicity alone would give us a tremendous economic boost.

But Mr Gough said it was something in the reply from the minister’s office to his letter that prompted him to call for locals to flood Mr Hunt’s office with emails of support.

It stated that the Department of the Environment was “in the process of holding further discussions with stakeholders who have expressed concerns about the proposed listing”.

“Stakeholders”, to Mr Hugh, means one thing.

“That tells me the mining companies have a very strong lobby and we have got to overcome that,” he said.

City Council is backing the heritage listing and Mayor Wincen Cuy is going to meet Mr Hunt on June 18.

“So the more emails that land on Greg Hunt’s desk before that, the better,” Mr Gough said.”

With the mines now paying less into the city’s coffers, Broken Hill could not afford to let slip the chance to boost its economy, he said.

“We need to let the minister know that the people of Broken Hill would appreciate some sort of help ... and it would be a great outcome if we became the first heritage city in Australia.”

Mr Gough said he knew some were suspicious of the proposal.

“They think it means we will not be allowed to do anything, but that’s not true.

“All decisions about heritage are already vetted by Council’s heritage advisor; all becoming a heritage city means is that nothing inappropriate to our heritage can be done.”

Mr Gough has lived here for 13 years and owns the Caledonian Hotel guest house. He said his plea to his fellow citizens had less to do with his being in the tourism industry than with his desire to see the city revived.

“It doesn’t make much difference to me at my age,” he said, “but you should think about what it might mean to yourselves, your kids and your grandchildren.”

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