On the 6th March 2020, three months after my written request on 9 December 2019 (below) for a statement of reasons from the Heritage Council for why they failed to heritage list the UQ Union complex, I received these two letters.
The statement of reasons is one the most appalling cut-and-paste jobs I have ever seen, namely:
“The Complex has undergone extensive changes, including removal of approximately 61% of the original Breeze Block screens, a key component of the original facades; replacement of most original doors and windows (except windows to the first floor of the Administration Block and some windows to the Relaxation Block); removal of most interior partitions and construction of new interior partitions; alterations to most floor and wall finishes; addition of an arcade between the Administration Block and Refectory; additions of new buildings north of the Administration Block and south of the Refectory; extension to north end of the Administration Block; removal of water feature, brick partition and platform entrance on west side of Administration Block; replacement of ground floor walls with shop-front tenancies to Administration Block and Refectory; replacement of balustrades to the Refectory Extension’s balconies; and alterations to the levels, floor finishes, stairs and landscaping of the Forum.”
Variants of this paragraph appear on no fewer than five (5) occasions throughout the 18 page document. What does it matter if the balustrades were changed, or the breezeway, or if the water feature was removed, surely the place and its connection with Queensland resistance remain?
Here is one example of the debates that went on at the forum, this one is about free and independent media in a democratic society.
It is a shame the UQ students union never contested University of Qld’s ownership of the building … for it was different administrations of the student union that made these ‘extensive changes’ using student fees. The administration still could not stamp out the refuge it gave to people and organisations that fought against the Bjleke-Petersen government.
Please feel free to pass on to interested parties.
Where to now?