Thursday, January 08, 2004

The National Trust for Higher Property Values

The National Trust of Australia, like so many other once good-doing NGOs, is an organisation adrift in a sea of economic ruthless-ism. Heritage protection has been almost entirely devolved to local councils, and with this devolution has come a rough-and-ready, if not one-size-fits-all approach.

Heritage by bureaucracy has also resulted anything but a democratisation of heritage values. Home renovation TV shows regularly show giant machines destroying sound and intact pre WWII houses, with no attempt made to salvage anything from the structure. The tasteless (architect-less, I’m guessing) identikit townhouses that have sprouted all over inner Melbourne in recent years bleakly attest to the corollary proposition: the cheap, shiny and new rules, okay.

Inevitably, the National Trust has decided to meet the barbarians halfway; hence this letter from Elsa Atkin. Elsa, honey: if era-“sympathetic” home restorations really add that much value to a property, there’s hardly any need for your mob to point out the exact location of the carcass to the prowling jackals. Of course, we all know that you don’t really mean what say you mean – heritage protection is ultimately a matter of altruism (or duress, which is where local councils come into their own). But for the National Trust to actually be invoking altruism – heavens, that’s a dirty word in 2004, isn't it?

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