Property development not spiritual development: MP Fiona Patten

Property development not spiritual development: MP Fiona Patten
Property development not spiritual development: MP Fiona Patten

The Conversation

GUEST OBSERVER

The Andrews Labor Government has decided to reward big-end-of-town developers Leighton Holdings and the money grubbing bean counters at the Uniting Church, by approving the demolition of the historic Princess Mary Club to make way for a 34 level office tower.

Now we know that high profile developers can simply click their fingers and get what they want out of the Andrews Labor Government. Damn the heritage consequences and damn the historical and architectural significance it seems. Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s decision to allow Leighton Holdings and the Uniting Church develop the Princess Mary Club site is a disgrace.

If you donate enough, it seems you get the Premier and Minister’s ear – and in this case their approval.

I have lobbied to save the Princess Mary Club since coming to parliament at the end of 2014. 

The site has been at the centre of a heated heritage discussion for some time.

Minister for Women Fiona Richardson said earlier this year that the site had “historical and social significance” and would relate development concerns to the Planning Minister saying that it was a “valuable service to women…at a time when there were very few safe places available to them.”

The Princess Mary Club was known as a safe-haven for women.

At a time when this government has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to address the issue of family violence following the recommendations of the Royal Commission, you would have thought that keeping this building as a testament to our commitment to helping women fleeing violence and indeed using the building to help women, not big party donors, would have been a huge statement. It’s just so very, very disappointing.

The Uniting Church should be held to account.

The Uniting Church, which was gifted this building to help the vulnerable in the first place and receive massive tax breaks from the state and federal governments, is in the development game, not the religion game. They are feathering their own nest at the expense of the Victorian taxpayer.

This just goes to prove that the church is more interested in cash flow than helping the vulnerable. Ordinary Victorians, whether of faith or not, should demand that the government make the church pay their fair share of tax – especially when it comes to their number one priority of property development not spiritual development.

Fiona Patten MP, Member for Northern Metropolitan and can be contacted here.

Tags: 
Development Uniting Church

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