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Time for action

The recognition factor for Tasmania's threatened built heritage grows stronger, and in many quarters. It includes how rescuing this heritage can reap tourism benefits.

It was a belief embraced in a Mercury editorial on September 23, where our leading daily newspaper was examining the need to get tourists to stay here longer:

"The environment is an obvious asset but visitors also are drawn by Tasmania's history and array of heritage buildings. As well-travelled columnist Leo Schofield has been arguing in this newspaper for a long time, these cannot be taken for granted.

"Irreplaceable buildings are still threatened by inappropriate development, a lack of appreciation of what could be lost and the absence of a reliable source of funding for preservation. Federal, state and local governments must come up with a solution or some of Australia's oldest and most significant buildings could be degraded beyond repair."

The plight of Holy Trinity is prominent in those sentiments voiced by the Mercury - a plight that Leo Schofield has highlighted many times over many months. The key factor now is positive remedial rescue action, and the public is still waiting to hear of this.

On two other occasions this year (March 13 and June 19) the Mercury also included Holy Trinity's situation in its editorials.

The spark for earlier comment was a proposal for a State Lottery that could help pay for the conservation of our historic places. The idea gained prominence and was enthusiastically supported by then premier Paul Lennon, and the fact that he was backing a lottery proposal that had come from the Greens showed a welcome bipartisan approach.

By the time of the second Mercury editorial there had been a change of leadership, to David Bartlett, but the Mercury said this was no reason for relegating the push for a lottery.

It observed the leadership change "should not mean a bright idea then is not still a bright idea now . . . if ever there was a time for a government and bureaucracy to show they can act quickly and effectively to take advantage of a situation this is it. Tasmania should consider getting a heritage lottery up and running as soon as possible."

Yet there has been nothing seen since in the way of action from the Bartlett Government.

The Mercury also fired a much earlier editorial warning on the risk to our old buildings, on August 20 last year, under the heading "Heritage too precious to neglect". The essential message then needs repeating:

"Future generations will judge us harshly if we fail in our duty to preserve our built heritage."

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