Eden's Australasia group hits back after council backflip

Together we stand: Hotel Australasia campaigners Denise Switzer, Amanda Midlam, Mike Gandon and Peter Whiter get ready for the fundraiser concert. Picture: Toni Houston
Together we stand: Hotel Australasia campaigners Denise Switzer, Amanda Midlam, Mike Gandon and Peter Whiter get ready for the fundraiser concert. Picture: Toni Houston

Battlelines have been drawn in the fight to save Eden's Hotel Australasia. Plans are underway for a concert to raise money for the restoration of the building's facade amid questions that a Bega councillor may have failed to declare a conflict of interest when claiming to know two developers potentially interested in buying it.  

Eden's Australasia community group met hours after last week's back-flip by Bega Valley Shire Council in which councillors voted to seek expressions of interest for two weeks from developers keen to buy the building.     

"The committee expressed their bitter disappointment with the council's decision to renege on their original agreement," Eden's Australasia president Peter Whiter said following the group's meeting.

"Council purchased the property and resolved to work with the community to restore the facade and repurpose the building.   Eden's Australasia has been cooperating with council and fundraising to preserve this significant historic building.

"The committee intends to submit a comprehensive expression of interest and will continue with its fundraising campaign," he said.

Pambula-based developer Neil Rankin said speculation that he was about to submit an EoI was "premature".

"The question is whether people want the Australasia to be the dead centre of town or the live centre," he said. 

Mr Whiter questioned whether Cr Robyn Bain had a conflict of interest by moving the motion on the Australasia before claiming that she knew two potential developers interested in the site.

He said he was keen to know the identity of the developers in order to work with them on seeing the circa 1904 building restored and put to good use. 

Cr Bain was not available for comment yesterday.

Mr Whiter said in speaking to her motion Cr Bain had mounted a "personal attack with a zero right of reply".

He said that in the event the Eden's Australasia group folded, its constitution made provision for any money raised to be directed to other heritage projects in the town.

Arvo on the Oval will be held at George Brown Memorial Oval on November 26 from noon, with international band Storm Cellar supported by local musicians.

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