Heritage Good Governance

The NSW heritage management system is devoid of incentives making it worthwhile for owners, developers and incoming purchasers to embrace its spiritual and significance values. The system barely acknowledges that owners become the de facto curators of the stock. They get no acknowledgement never mind financial assistance. When they go to Council to seek information about making changes to their listed buildings, they are invariably met with opprobrium and distrust. This is not good for heritage. It alienates owners and developers from the stock.

The trend needs to be radically reversed. Rappoport stands for a complete overhaul of the NSW Heritage Management System. Government agencies now have to start working creatively in search of affordable solutions for owners and not complicate processes unnecessarily.

Certainty in cultural heritage designation i.e. the listing of heritage properties is fraught with doubt.  Notwithstanding, there is an assumption in society that public goods such as heritage need to be protected by governments otherwise, left purely to private market forces, such goods would simply perish.  Eventually, all funding is derived from private individuals.  This gives rise to the notion of consumer sovereignty. Good governance is a measure of the extent to which the aspirations of citizens  are either taken up or ignored by governments. Peacock proposes a ‘voucher scheme’ offered to households or associations of households through the medium of public financing. He argues that ultimately spending on heritage will follow market oriented models including national lotteries to support expenditure on public goods.


Cooke proposes that “individuals, communities, non-governmental organizations, regional and local authorities all play a role and share responsibility in protecting heritage.  Without the cooperation and active involvement of all concerned, there is little chance of success”.  He demonstrates that compensation paid to private owners of heritage is positive for the reason that it promotes economic efficiency, reduces reliance upon regulation and is equitable.  It is negative for the reason that it encourages rent seeking (non-mutually beneficial transactions) and opportunistic behaviour such as surreptitious betterment; that it is difficult to quantify and administer and; that it amounts to a cost burden upon the community.  Over reliance upon heritage regulation without compensation alienates owners and discourages investment in the sector leading ultimately to a decline the stock of heritage buildings. 

Paul Rappoport - Heritage 21 - 3 March 2011


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