Victoria’s Simone Schinkel talks about the green ban on the John Curtin Hotel
When the Building Industry Group (BIG) declared a green ban last month on the John Curtin Hotelthe historic pub was both secure for future generations to enjoy, and Victoria Music had a victory to savor.
Opened in 1859-1860, the John Curtin is no ordinary Melbourne drinker. The story took place there.
In 1983, the year Australia won the America’s Cup and Men At Work was No. 1 pretty much everywhere, the pub was where the deal between Labor and ACTU was discussed, a meeting that overturned many provisions Australians can now rely on, from health insurance to superannuation.
Also in the 1980s, Stray Blacks’ Alf Bamblett broke racial barriers when he hosted a regular fortnightly event at the hotel to shine a light on Aboriginal groups.
Earlier, in the 1960s, when most establishments prohibited women from drinking with men, the John Curtin hosted equal pay activist and feminist Zelda D’Aprano who called for progress, and more recently it hosted the wake of former Prime Minister and beer-drinking world champion Bob Hawke.
Today, it’s one of the few venues dedicated to live music in Carlton, and it serves as a key launching pad for emerging local and international artists. The likes of Teenage Dads, Phil Jamieson, Frankie and the Witch Fingers (US) and Tiny Ruins (NZ) are booked to perform in the venue in the weeks and months to come.
Thus, when the cultural institution was taken over by a mysterious offshore developerthe Victorian Union movement sprang into action to protect it from the wrecking ball, with support from MV, MEAA, the Victorian Trades Hall Council, the National Trust and others.
“Melbourne is the live music capital of the world, which is specifically calculated by how many live music venues we have per capita,” Music Victoria CEO Simone Schinkel said when the ban was announced. green on April 31.
“These live music venues obviously showcase our talent, but they also build community solidarity, bring out new voices, celebrate who we are, and show us what we can become,” she continued. “I really hope that what we will become is a stronger state of live music that honors our history and realizes the value and important cultural contributions made by places like The Curtin.”
Green bans have saved landmarks in the past.
Led by the Builders Laborers Federation (BLF), these bans have protected several Melbourne treasures from development, from City Baths to the Princess Theatre, Windsor Hotel, Flinders Street Station and Queen Victoria Market.
“It is so important that we protect our heritage pubs and music venues – not just because they are significant heritage buildings, but because of their irreplaceable social and cultural value,” comments Nicholas Reece, Deputy Mayor of the city of Melbourne.
The City of Melbourne approved interim “significant” heritage protection for the Curtin Hotel, Reece noted last April, to ensure it receives “the highest level of protection possible in any redevelopment application. Any redevelopment proposal will be examined with the greatest attention by the councillors.
OTI caught up with Schinkel for an update on the green ban, its application to the Melbourne live community and some insight into how it went down.
TIO: Congratulations on the John Curtin Hotel Green Ban. What does all of this mean for the Melbourne music scene?
Simone Schinkel: The green ban is essentially a form of strike action. Here we have the support of the CFMEU, the Electrical Trades Union, the Plumbing and Pipeworkers Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, who have pledged not to work on any redevelopment of the Curtin Hotel.
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So right now the Victorian music scene has the support of very powerful unions on our side.
How hard was it to get there?
The Curtin is unique because there are so many different interest groups invested in saving it.
It’s obviously a Victorian icon for live music – as a home for all things contemporary, from experimental to punk, and was one of the first places up-and-coming Aboriginal artists could play in the 80s. – but the hotel has also hosted political conversations and labor events that have influenced the course of Victorian and Australian history.
In addition to builders’ unions, we worked with Trades Hall, MEAA and the National Heritage Trust to secure the green ban.
What happens next for the John Curtin Hotel?
We know the Curtin was sold to an international buyer, but we haven’t figured out who exactly it is yet.
Our aim would be to meet them and discuss its importance as a venue for live music, and help them fulfill their obligations as already included in current planning laws for its social and cultural significance.
Now that you’ve been given the green light for a Green Ban, are there any other venues Music Victoria is targeting?
We see the Curtin Hotel as a test case for the new planning laws that Music Victoria has worked extremely hard to update to better support live music in the state.
But it’s great to know that when we need the support of others, many people will come forward to add their voices to protect what is special in Victoria.
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