Palace Theatre

Ms SANDELL (Melbourne) — My question is to the Minister for Planning. As the minister would know, there are many important buildings in inner Melbourne that deserve to be protected for their arts, heritage and cultural value. One such building is the Palace Theatre on Bourke Street. This theatre has been in operation since 1860, and for over 100 years it has been a Melbourne city staple, having been a theatre, a cinema and more recently a live performance venue which has filled a much-needed mid-size venue niche.

At present there are plans in the works to demolish this well-known site to make way for hotel suites, and there have been disturbing reports over the last week that Jinshan Investments has continued to strip out important interior heritage fabric of the Palace. Does the minister believe that the Palace Theatre is a site of state or local heritage significance in Melbourne and should be protected?

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The comment the Chair makes to the interjections is no. The Chair has registered the question as put by the member for Melbourne, and the Minister for Planning will respond.

Ms SANDELL (Melbourne) — I thank the Minister for Planning for his answer, but given that the City of Melbourne's actions have not prevented damage to the interior of the Palace Theatre, given that the community's expectations for this site are wildly different from the current weak heritage controls that apply to the site and given that this raises a major policy issue with the current Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) proceedings, will the minister use his powers under the VCAT act to call in the demolition and redevelopment application and ensure that the Palace Theatre is protected to the standards that are expected by the Melbourne community?

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