Councils call for heritage funding

NATIONAL Trust managing director Matthew Smithies is full of praise for a Hobart and Launceston council initiative urging political parties to provide greater certainty around the funding of conservation work on Tasmania's heritage buildings.

Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten and Hobart Lord Mayor Damon Thomas said that communities shared the responsibility of identifying and respecting what was important, and passing on these places to future generations so they ``will understand our history''.

Mr Smithies said the initiative set an example for the rest of the state and the heritage sector to follow.

``It is well and truly time that all areas of the heritage sector worked together to fully understand the contribution heritage plays in communities, tourism and potential business development,'' he said.

The trust receives $300,000 a year for the 10 listed properties it manages, but Mr Smithies said it faced costs of $525,000 for works that required immediate action and a further $828,000 for works required within two years.

``We're most grateful for our state government funding, but it is inadequate to enable sites to be maintained to an acceptable standard,'' he said.

``Given the broad contribution the trust makes towards the community, maybe we could be given an opportunity to tap into non-traditional funding sources, like the Departments of Health and Ageing, Education and Justice.''

Alderman Albert van Zetten said that heritage places contributed to the quality of life and cultural identity of communities.

``In fact, there are many heritage places, such as halls, churches, gardens, schools, and hotels, which are the focal point for community gatherings and Hobart and Launceston call on all political parties for  a more permanent funding arrangement,'' he said.

Both cities believed that if the state government wanted to maximise the benefits derived from Tasmania's rich heritage, a long-term strategy was required to ensure the state continued to be recognised as a significant historic heritage destination offering exceptional heritage experiences, Alderman Thomas said.

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