On the same day the Anglican Church gathered to debate the sale of some historic buildings, the state government launched a new scheme to preserve them.
Premier Will Hodgman was at Stillwater Restaurant to introduce the Heritage Renewal Loans Scheme on Saturday morning, the same time as the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania met to debate the proposed sell-off of property to help fund redress for survivors of sexual abuse.
First announced in the lead up to the state election, the government’s heritage scheme means loans of between $100,000 and $1.5 million are available to owners of historic assets that are permanently entered on the Tasmanian Heritage Register.
Mr Hodgman admitted the buildings discussed as part of the redress scheme could be eligible for the loans.
“There is no reason why any private owner of a property who wants to utilise it in the way scheme intends, which is to support the visitor economy, can do so,” he said.
“This scheme is really about seizing on the fact that our heritage asset is integral to what makes Tasmania a special place.”
An initiative of the Office of the Coordinator-General, in conjunction with the Tasmanian Heritage Council and Heritage Tasmania, loans will be offered for heritage registered business properties at a discount rate of 3.26 per cent per annum.
There will be a maximum loan term of five years, or up to 10 years in specific circumstances.
Projects may include upgrades or enhancements of heritage buildings for uses such as boutique visitor accommodation, retail, hospitality, gallery, cellar door, visitor services or business premises that target visitors to that area or region.
Responding to the scheme, Shadow Treasurer Scott Bacon said the government had its “priorities backwards”.
“The government is providing loans to people living in very valuable homes at the same time Tasmanians are sleeping rough and living in tents,” he said.