It’s our heritage: Wragg

The Morwell Power Station and briquette factory are directly linked to a group of people that changed the course of Victoria’s history, heritage proponent Cheryl Wragg told last week’s Heritage Council.

Ms Wragg said the people that changed the course of the state’s history was the State Electricity Commission of Victoria and it’s joint 1940 Investigatory Committee chaired by Dr Hyman Herman.

Ms Wragg was one of a number of speakers to present to three Heritage Council representatives at the hearing to determine whether or not the Morwell Power Station and Briquette Factories will be heritage listed.

Other speakers included Heritage Victoria’s Dr Marina Larsson and Mr Geoff Austin on behalf of the executive director, Coal Energy Australia, Energy Brix Australia Corporation, Latrobe City Council’s acting manager planning services Jody Riordan and Asbestos Council of Victoria/GARDS chief executive Vicki Hamilton.

Ms Wragg argued the facility is tied to the immigration history of the Latrobe Valley.

She said decontamination of the site is safer than demolition and the community needed to be able to trust whichever process is decided upon for the site’s future; a decision she said is not the role of the Heritage Council of Victoria.

Heritage Victoria speakers represented Heritage Victoria’s executive director who originally recommended the power station and briquette factories be heritage listed.

Heritage Victoria speakers said the site satisfied three criterion for inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register.

These criterion included importance to the course or pattern of Victoria’s cultural history, the possession of rare or endangered aspects of Victoria’s cultural history and importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects.

Latrobe City Council representative Jody Riordan reiterated sentiments made earlier in the year by councillors, stating council supported the heritage listing however did not want the site to become left derelict and become a burden on ratepayers.

Ms Hamilton advocated the demolition of the site, arguing asbestos in the facility presented significant danger to the community and acted as a hurtful reminder for many people in the Latrobe Valley living with mesothelioma, of which exposure to asbestos is the cause.

Coal Energy Australia speaker Jeff Lyn said challenges posed by asbestos across the power station and the briquette factories were “entirely different”, arguing the briquette factory could be re-used and addressed future uses for the Morwell Power Station site.