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Broken Hill is nation’s first heritage city

Wednesday, 21st January, 2015

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt congratulates environmental lawyer Simon Molesworth, the architect of the plan to make Broken Hill the first city in the nation to be placed on the National Heritage List. Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt congratulates environmental lawyer Simon Molesworth, the architect of the plan to make Broken Hill the first city in the nation to be placed on the National Heritage List.

By Andrew Robertson

A decade long “dream” to have Broken Hill become the nation’s first heritage-listed city was finally realised yesterday. 

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt drew applause and cheers from the 100-strong crowd gathered in front of the Town Hall facade when he announced what many in the city had long been anticipating.

Standing under an overcast sky Mr Hunt, who described the city’s inclusion on the National Heritage List as our “worst kept secret”, said the city had played an important role in the economic development of the nation.

“When you think of regional Australia, when you think of mining, when the think of the ethos of Australia, you think of Broken Hill,” Mr Hunt said.

“From Pro Hart to Priscilla to Perilya, it’s a town that covers art and culture and mining and industry and the outback of Australia.”

The minister said the “incredible resources that have characterised Broken Hill” had been the foundations upon which so much of Australia had been built.

“But for this town during the course of the Great Depression, NSW would have almost certainly have gone bust,” he said.

“NSW rode on the back of Broken Hill and for that NSW and all of Australia should be immensely proud and thankful, and you should be immensely proud of what you have brought to Australia.”

Many may have expected it to happen before now, but the city’s listing has been a long time in the making.

It was first submitted to the National Heritage Council for listing in 2005 and was approved by the council in 2009.

“It was put forward not just for one or two or three or four categories, but eight possible categories,” Mr Hunt said.

But it then “sat in the drawer” of successive environment ministers until MP Sussan Ley approached Mr Hunt about 12 months ago and urged him to finish the process.

So began a concerted push by all three levels of government to overcome any final barriers or resistance to the city’s inclusion on the list, which Mr Hunt said covered more than 100 places, including the Sydney Opera House and Great Barrier Reef.

Listing wc\830

 

History in a handshake

 

Broken Hill is nation’s first heritage city 

 

By Andrew Robertson

A decade long “dream” to have Broken Hill become the nation’s first heritage-listed city was finally realised yesterday. 

 

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt drew applause and cheers from the 100-strong crowd gathered in front of the Town Hall facade when he announced what many in the city had long been anticipating.

Standing under an overcast sky Mr Hunt, who described the city’s inclusion on the National Heritage List as our “worst kept secret”, said the city had played an important role in the economic development of the nation.

“When you think of regional Australia, when you think of mining, when the think of the ethos of Australia, you think of Broken Hill,” Mr Hunt said.

“From Pro Hart to Priscilla to Perilya, it’s a town that covers art and culture and mining and industry and the outback of Australia.”

The minister said the “incredible resources that have characterised Broken Hill” had been the foundations upon which so much of Australia had been built.

“It represents the absolute icons of Australia’s natural history, indigenous history, industrial history and cultural history.”

However, before yesterday it had never included an entire city.

“But I say prior to this moment because as of today, as of this moment, I am delighted to announce that the 103rd listing on the National Heritage List ... is Broken Hill.”

Later Mr Hunt told journalists that the listing declared to the world that Broken Hill was Australia’s “premier heritage city”.

“Ultimately it’s a tremendous opportunity for the future of Broken Hill to say tourism, heritage, come and see the heart of Australia.”

Ms Ley told the gathering that the city’s listing had only been successful because of the hard work and persistence of a handful of people, not least environmental lawyer Simon Molesworth. 

“Professor Simon Molesworth had a dream, a dream that began the journey that ended with today,” the Federal Health Minister said.

“For me it’s extremely exciting because this will not only give Broken Hill the opportunity to apply for grants ... (it) will give everybody in Australia and indeed the world access to Australia’s mining past.

“So this is Broken Hill’s day and I’m delighted to share it with you all.”

Western NSW Minister Kevin Humphries said the announcement represented another chapter in “this magnificent city’s history”.

“This is about people; it’s about another chapter in where Broken Hill’s going,” said Mr Humphries, who added that he hoped the listing would inspire other communities to do the same.

He paid tribute to the city’s mining companies which he said had to take a “leap of faith” because “some people think the national heritage listing in freezing something in time”.

“That’s not going to happen.”

What was likely however, was additional funding for Broken Hill.

“Part of the discussion we’ve had at the State level, certainly with the council, is how do we inject some resources literally into Broken Hill to help capture that whole story and narrative around the national heritage listing.

“It creates enormous marketing opportunities for Broken Hill as a destination and telling your story.”

An overjoyed Mayor Wincen Cuy said the announcement by Mr Hunt had been a long time coming “but it was worth the wait”. 

“You bring fantastic news, minister, and we thank you for your support and desire to see Broken Hill take its rightful place as Australia’s first national listed city.

“While it is said Australia was built on the sheep’s back I can say Broken Hill took Australia off the sheep’s back and made it what it is today.”

The mayor also paid tribute to Mr Molesworth along with Council’s heritage advisor Liz Vines and former senior manager, Peter Oldsen.

“Peter Oldsen, during his time with Council, was a strong advocate for this to happen,” Mayor Cuy said. 

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