The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
07 March 2004
The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, will ask the new Australian Heritage Council to consider Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens for inclusion on the Australian Government's new National Heritage List.
“It is particularly fitting that such an important building should be assessed for national heritage listing as the first year of the Government's new national heritage system coincides with the year of the built environment,” Dr Kemp said.
“The building and gardens, which are at the northern end of Melbourne's central business district, have played a central role in Australia's emergence as a nation in its own right.
“Built for the International Exhibition in 1880, the Exhibition Building, in its garden setting, was the centre piece for Australia's early appearances on the world stage both then and at a subsequent International Exhibition in 1888.
“More importantly for its national heritage credentials, as a national icon, it was also at the forefront of Australian nationhood hosting the first sitting of the Australian Government after federation, on 9 May 1901.
“The grand Opening of the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia (by HRH The Duke of Cornwall and York-later King George V) in the Exhibition Building was immortalised by the famous Tom Roberts painting, which now hangs in a prominent position in Parliament House, Canberra.
“Accordingly, the Exhibition Building, which is currently being assessed by the World Heritage Committee for its potential international heritage values, will also be assessed by our own Australian Heritage Council for its nationally important heritage values.
“It is my personal conviction, shared by many others, that this place has played such a central role in the emergence of our nation that I have singled it out as the first place I want directly assessed for its national heritage values.
“Focusing on nationally important heritage values is the central aim of the Australian Government's new heritage system and I encourage all Australians to nominate those places they consider worthy candidates for the new National Heritage List.”