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.
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 tourism executive have committed $125,000 to the nomination.
"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.
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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.
Ballarat mayor Cr Daniel Moloney said while Ballarat and Bendigo were wonderful gold rush cities, the nomination would been a boon for the entire region.
"All around us is a massive area, significant on a global scale. It's really rare to get 13 councils together in one state, representing more than half a million people, to call on the state government to support us with our bid to get all these sites recognised."
Mr Napthine, Mr Moloney and Victorian Goldfields Tourism executive, Central Goldfields mayor Christopher Meddows-Taylor, acknowledged the work of former City of Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh in keeping the heritage bid alive and in the forefront of government attention.
"It was a wonderful moment in my term as mayor of the City of Ballarat meeting with these 13 municipalities and gaining their support, getting their signatures and their funding support on the table," Cr McIntosh said.
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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