In a historic and bold move, the Building Industry Group (BIG) has today declared a Green Ban on The John Curtin Hotel to protect the site.
The historic hotel was purchased recently by an offshore developer – and the Victorian Union movement acted swiftly and decisively in a bid to protect the historic building from being destroyed.
Similar Green Bans led by the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) have saved Melbourne icons such as City Baths, Princess Theatre, Hotel Windsor, Flinders Street Station and the Queen Victoria Market from development.
Unionists, community members and musicians are now set to take action. As well as being a well-loved meeting place for Melburnians and the labour movement, the pub is also one of the few dedicated live music venues in Carlton, and acts as an important stepping-stone for emerging local and international talent.
Key leaders from Victoria's industrial, heritage and creative sectors will attend a press event at The John Curtin Hotel tomorrow for a formal announcement of the Green Ban.
Press Event: Friday, April 29, 11-11.30AM at The John Curtin Hotel, 29 Lygon Street, Carlton
In attendance: National Trust of Australia, Victorian Trades Hall Council, Music Victoria, MEAA & musicians, including: Loretta Miller (Jazz Party), Nicolaas Oogjes (Cong Josie / NoZu), Craig Dermody (Scott & Charlene's Wedding), Ruby Jones, Madeline Leman & Shelby De Fazio (Bad Bangs)
Quote attributable to Simon Ambrose, CEO, National Trust of Australia (Victoria):
“Green Bans have saved some of Melbourne's most treasured heritage places, including the Queen Victoria Market, Regent Theatre, and Flinders Street Station. The National Trust is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the union movement to protect The Curtin, another beloved cultural institution. The Curtin has been a community meeting place for more than 160 years. Our goal is to ensure that it remains a pub and live music venue, and doesn't become a facade with a block of apartments behind it.”
Simone Schinkel, CEO, Music Victoria:
“Melbourne is the live music capital of the world, which is specifically calculated based on how many live music venues we have per capita. These places of live music obviously showcase our talent, but they also build community solidarity, give rise to new voices, celebrate who we are and show us what we can become. I really hope that what we are to become is a stronger live music state, one that honours our history and realises the value and important cultural contributions made by places like The Curtin.”
Nicholas Reece, Deputy Lord Mayor, City of Melbourne:
“It is so important that we protect our heritage pubs and live music venues - not just because they are important heritage buildings, but because of their irreplaceable social and cultural value.
“The City of Melbourne has endorsed interim ‘significant’ heritage protection for The Curtin Hotel, to help ensure it receives the strongest possible level of protection in any redevelopment application. Any redevelopment proposal will be considered extremely carefully by Councillors.”
Luke Hilakari, Secretary, Victorian Trades Hall Council:
“Our movement has a long and proud history of protecting important cultural sites and buildings in Melbourne – and The John Curtin Hotel is one of them. This is about saving an important gathering place for the future, but it's also about preserving our city’s heritage.
“Not that long ago we lost the Corkman Hotel. These pubs hold Melbourne’s past, our stories, and community. We can’t keep losing them like this. We need to ensure that The Curtin is still there in 150 years' time.
“This Green Ban sends a clear message from Victorian workers: we will not stand by and let our precious, historic building be destroyed by international greedy developers.”
Adam Portelli, Regional Director for Victoria and Tasmania, Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance:
“The Curtin has a long and strong connection with Melbourne’s arts, entertainment and media industries through its role as one of the city’s most important music venues, but also in earlier days as a watering hole for journalists who would often score a political scoop over a few cold ales.
“This pub is part of our city’s fabric and must be protected and preserved.
“Green Bans have saved some of Melbourne’s most important buildings in the past and it is time for all Victorians who care about our heritage to stand together again to prevent The Curtin from being demolished.”
The first hotel on The John Curtin site opened in 1859-60, at the same time as the first Trades Hall building began operating across the road. In 1886, when workers were organising against the notorious sweatshop clothing company Beath, Schiess and Co, unionists couldn’t accommodate everyone for a meeting at Trades Hall so they shifted across the road to the pub. One hundred years later, the Victorian nurses would meet at The John Curtin during their famous strike of 1986.
The John Curtin Hotel has also long been an important creative and music venue. It’s where Frank Hardy and George Seelaf came up with the idea of underground printing of the classic novel Power Without Glory. In the 1980s, Alf Bamblett from the band Stray Blacks established a regular fortnightly event at the hotel to spotlight Aboriginal bands – at a time when racist hostility in the pub scene was commonplace.
It is where the historic Accord between Labor and the ACTU was discussed in 1983, which gave Australians many of the provisions we take for granted, from Medicare to superannuation. In the 1960s, when most pubs enforced the sexist law segregating women from drinking with men, The John Curtin welcomed equal pay activist and feminist Zelda D’Aprano who led the charge. It was also where Norm Gallagher celebrated and where Bob Hawke’s wake was held.
Media Contact: Suzi Taylor (VTHC) - 0447 333 834