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Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads
Manager of Government Business in the Senate
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
16 July 2004
The building that hosted the opening of the nation's first Federal Parliament is the first historic place to be included on Australia's new National Heritage List, the incoming Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell, announced today.
Senator Campbell said the Royal Exhibition Building National Historic Place in Melbourne, would join the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument, at Lark Quarry near Winton in Queensland's west and Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape at Lake Condah in Victoria's south-west as the first three places on the list of outstanding national places.
"This is a building that is at the core of our history," Senator Campbell said. "It provided the venue for the birth of a united nation and a democracy that even today remains unique in the world.
"The Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens were built to host the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880. This was a time when international exhibitions gave young countries an opportunity to demonstrate to the world their economic power and their achievements across a range of fields.
"Staging such an exhibition was also a powerful symbol of our aspirations towards nationhood.
"The Great Hall, which we know today as the Exhibition Building and the largely unaltered Carlton Gardens, are among the last surviving tangible representations of the international exhibition movement.
"It was for this reason that the Building and Gardens were inscribed on the World Heritage List earlier this month.
"Now, with National Heritage Listing, we are examining not only the values that puts this place on the world stage, but the values that are important to us as a nation.
"Foremost is the building's role in hosting the opening of Australia's first Parliament.
"At the time of Federation, Prime Minister Edmund Barton wanted the opening of the first federal parliament to be a great function, involving as many Australians as possible.
"It was because of this that Exhibition Building, the nation's then-largest and arguably grandest building, was chosen.
"Long after the politicians left, the building continued to be an important resource. It housed memorabilia from returned soldiers in World War I and remained the principal store for the Australian War Memorial until the building in Canberra opened in 1941.
"Today the building continues to provide a venue for a variety of exhibitions.
"These places are important inclusions on the new National Heritage List which will grow to include the outstanding natural, cultural and Indigenous places and stories that make the country distinctively Australian," he said.
"New laws and a new system of management, forged in consultation and partnership with the owners and managers of these places, will ensure that they endure."
Senator Campbell said nominations included the Sydney Opera House, South Australia's Parliament House, the Barlings Beach Aboriginal site in NSW and New Farm Park in Queensland.
The independent advisory body, the Australian Heritage Council, assesses nominations on these national heritage values.
The Council has 12 months to assess places against stringent criteria before making their report.
Further information on the new National Heritage List and the first listings, can be found at www.deh.gov.au/heritage/whatsnew including high-resolution images suitable for print.