Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Planning. I ask him to intervene and to issue a refusal for the application for a permit for the Wesley Church complex at 118–148 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, which is the site of the Princess Mary Club. The demolition of this beautiful heritage building would be a disaster for Melbourne. It has great historical, architectural and social significance for women — and for everyone — because of the role it played in the early development of Victoria when single women came from country areas to Victoria, and to Melbourne in particular, after World War I to start work. The club was built in 1926 as a home away from home for young women coming to the city for work. It was described as a ‘fence built at the top to prevent the unwary from falling’. It was to stop women from falling when they moved to Melbourne. It is anyone’s guess what ‘falling’ meant in those days.
The demolition of the building would be an outrage. This is a very rare piece of women’s history in Melbourne. There are very few buildings that recognise and reflect the history of women, particularly women in the workplace, in Melbourne and probably in Australia. It has social significance in showing the emerging role of women in early Australian society. Its demolition would be sad and would mark the end of an era in women’s history. If it was a football club, there would be no question of it being demolished; we would be protecting it. What is particularly sad is that it is a heritage building. The church has neglected it, and now it is saying, ‘Because we have not done anything it has fallen into disrepair, and it should be demolished’. I do not think we should reward the church for neglecting a heritage building.
An earlier permit for the demolition of the building was submitted in 2011. It was an almost identical proposal, and the then Labor Minister for Planning, the Honourable Justin Madden, refused it. It may be noted that the current application is not only for the demolition of the building but for the erection of a 57storey office building on the site, which is nearly twice as big as the original 2011 application that was refused. I ask the minister to stop this inappropriate development so we can hold on to this rare piece of women’s history.