March 26, 2010
OSCAR winning actor Geoffrey Rush has weighed into the fight over the Windsor Hotel, comparing the proposed redevelopment to the bombing of Dresden during World War II.
Hundreds of protesters who rallied against the $260 million project on the steps of Parliament House yesterday were read a statement from the Australian actor, who was not at the rally.
''Dresden was bombed out during a war, we don't need a war to bomb out our city, we've got a government who is bombing it out for us,'' he wrote.
The redevelopment will result in part of the rear of the 1883 hotel being demolished to make way for a 91-metre tower. The state architect has backed the project as a ''distinctive and memorable design''.
Yesterday demonstrators held signs saying ''Love it or Lose it - Just like Sydney''. Many wore stickers in a football design that said ''Give Madden the boot'', a reference to Planning Minister Justin Madden.
Australian Greens leader Bob Brown promised to take the issue to Federal Parliament, saying the redevelopment was a threat to the nation's heritage.
''This gathering has the support of not just so many Victorians but millions of Australians who will not want the bulldozers moved in,'' he said.
As the National Trust prepares for legal action against the project, the group's Victorian chief executive, Martin Purslow, said the decision showed heritage protections had failed to control development.
''The scale and bulk of the proposed tower, and its inevitable impact over the parliamentary area off into the future, deserve greater and wider consideration,'' he said.
In a letter to a planning panel, tabled in Parliament, state architect Geoffrey London said the redevelopment was an ''intelligent response'' to the area.
He said the tower, with its sheer and translucent backdrop set back from Spring Street, ''demonstrate[s] a considered and holistic response to site and precinct - clearly mindful of the proposal's relationship with Parliament House''.