Edward Mandla
COUNCIL SPEECHES
Post Exhibition and Industrial Warehouse Heritage Listing

Published On: 23/11/2015
This is one of those items that really irks me and arouses community suspicions. Like many important items of the past it starts with a fairly low key briefing.

And we had that two weeks ago. Nothing to see here, long process, very thorough, long consultation, Staff have done a great job, everyone’s a winner, so let’s not delay and get on with it.

Yet we had endless speakers here last week and most of them appeared very sincere and highly credible. We had heritage professionals at the table. One of those people had said that for years the experts had combed the CBD searching for historic buildings and that it was inconceivable that the City of Sydney could find one that was missed – but we did.

I asked the speakers about the long process which was very thorough with long consultation. We all heard the answers: very little consultation and first heard about the process from a City of Sydney brochure that said that property values may well go up from a heritage listing!

 

We heard about a lack of consistency with other properties, that some of the buildings weren’t exceptional, had no social significance and were a marginal listing if best.

As a Councillor, we come in at the tail end of long processes and have to make decisions based on City of Sydney recommendations and what we hear in and around the Committee process.

So I’m left with going back to our values. We’ve certainly displayed courage and innovation on this item. There’s little doubt we’re probably got this 95% right. But it’s the last 5% that concerns me. We’ve got people believing we haven’t been just. We’ve got people questioning the quality of our judgements.

There’s little doubt that there is a wide gap between the stated long and through consultation and what people experienced. So our value of collaboration comes into question.

We had experts in the room last week with different opinions and I’m certain we failed them on the value of respect in the way we fiercely defended our position and waived away their arguments that seemed strong to me.

It’s a pity we came so close to getting everyone on the same page. If we really overlaid our values over final feedback we’d see that we could have done better.

Had we been a little stronger on our values and had a little less pride, we certainly wouldn’t have been declared “not fit for the future”.

It’s no different here. We need to spend more time adhering to our values and raising the bar.

So once again, I believe the City didn’t finish this important heritage off properly and as such acted contrary to its own values. We didn’t display just behaviour and the City needs to be reminded to do better next time with a “No” vote.

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