Palace Theatre


Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) — Last week I wrote to the Minister for Planning regarding reports of more demolition works occurring inside 20–30 Bourke Street, which was originally the Palace Theatre and is now known as the Palace Metro. The National Trust and the Save the Palace group have also written to the minister, and I pay tribute to those organisations for their ongoing efforts in this matter.

In answer to a question from the member for Melbourne in the Assembly, Ellen Sandell, the minister yesterday implied that because significant works have been undertaken inside the venue, it is not worth protecting the historic interior and that the external facade is all that is important. This is not true, as I pointed out in Parliament in December 2013. The interior of the Palace Metro is impressive and unique and has always been admired. Despite alterations over the years, including the recent removal of some period features by the current owner, the interior retains its original plan form, including its famous balconies, staircases and its amphitheatre shape, which are a marker of the building's long history and social heritage and which are still intact.

In 1987 the Palace became the Metro Nightclub and was celebrated as one of the most advanced and impressive nightclubs in the world with its use of cutting-edge technology while retaining the historic ambience. On Network Ten's Night Life television program from the opening night of the Metro Nightclub, hosted by Molly Meldrum, comments in respect of the new nightclub included:

This is really fabulous.


If this was in New York it would be the toast of the world.

Yet in Melbourne we are in danger of losing this rare, much-loved and historic venue that has chronicled part of Victoria's cultural history over more than a century because the heritage and planning mechanisms have so far failed to protect it. It is not good enough for the government to just let this happen.