Getting two of the state's largest councils to sit on stage together and put aside their rivalries in a common cause is symbolic of how important a potential World Heritage listing for the goldfields region could be, says former Victorian premier Denis Napthine.
Mr Napthine was speaking at a media event to announce the collaboration of not just Bendigo and Ballarat city councils in pursuing heritage nomination, but 13 shires across the historic central goldfields region.
Working with the Victorian Goldfields Tourism executive, the councils want the listing in the hopes it will create jobs and attract investment to the region.
City of Greater Bendigo mayor Andrea Metcalf said the collaboration between the councils during the bid had been inspirational.
"Individually, central Victorian municipalities have some amazing tourism products but collectively as a region we could be on the cusp of achieving something remarkable," she said.
"A World Heritage listing would be the catalyst for so many opportunities built around the celebration of this remarkable legacy and for COVID-19 recovery."
"To attain what could be viewed as the highest status in world heritage recognition does not come easily.
"Our collaboration has been inspirational, our dedication unrelenting and we are confident our proposal to the State Government to advance this incredible initiative to its next stage will be successful."
Mr Napthine opened his address to the event with a tongue-in-cheek question, wondering why there was a 'City of Greater Bendigo', but not of Ballarat.
'Not that we want to go down the path of Ballarat-Bendigo rivalry," Mr Napthine said, "but I'd thought I'd ask."
Mr Napthine and another former Victorian premier John Brumby are co-patrons and supporters of the bid for World Heritage listing, which is estimated might bring between $25 to $66 million into local economies annually.
The group hopes the state government will support the move and wants $500,000 through Regional Development Victoria's $10 million investment fast-track fund to commission works in coming months. The councils and the tourism executive has committed $125,000 collectively.
"To have 13 councils not only join together but to work on something is unprecedented and shows that the project is really important and really significant," Mr Napthine said.
The money is to identify which sites in the region could make the World Heritage list and what investment is needed to leverage the bid.
Types of properties that will be considered include publicly owned properties such as town halls, railway stations or botanic gardens and recognised archaeological sites on public land.
To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.
This next stage will get the bid ready for World Heritage tentative listing for consideration by the Victorian and Australian Governments.
The consortium represents close to 500,000 people and almost 40,000 square kilometres - about 17 per cent of the state.
The 13 councils are Ararat, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Ballarat, Greater Bendigo, Golden Plains, Hepburn, Loddon, Macedon Ranges, Moorabool, Mount Alexander, Northern Grampians and Pyrenees.
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