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Counting the cost of lost heritage

Counting the cost of lost heritage

Oamaru’s most visible attraction is its architectural heritage. Letting the Courthouse go will prove more costly to the local economy than spending the money to save it, and is a short-sighted approach by government, said Hessel Van Wieren, Democrats for Social Credit’s Waitaki candidate and Justice spokesman.

The recent closure of Oamaru’s historic courthouse is just one example of the many heritage buildings across the country deemed an earthquake risk but too expensive to bring up to code.

This fine old building is intrinsic to Oamaru’s status as a town with unique heritage buildings - something which local promotion agencies have exploited to generate tourism opportunities for Oamaru businesses. It’s been an asset, not a liability.

The forecast $1million to $1.5 million upgrade should have been considered an investment in Oamaru’s future as a tourist destination. And the building’s use could have been expanded to include a wider Judicial function.

Under the Democrats for Social Credit Party’s policy, the cost of the upgrade for this and other historically significant buildings would be met by government grants made available via a designated line of community credit from the Reserve Bank. No debt, no interest, no destruction of old buildings.

The Government pays currently $12million daily in interest on debt. If that debt was generated by the RBNZ, instead of foreign financiers, that $12million in daily interest payments could be spent into the productive economy, and a portion could be made available as grants for public works including heritage building strengthening.


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