Protection Act - What's it done?

The Alfa Romeo was acquired by QVM in Launceston with partial funding from the National Cultural Heritage Account for retention in Australia as was the Innes by Australian Motorlife Museum, the Account was established by the Comm. Government in accordance with Section 25 of the PMCH Act 1986 to assist institutions to acquire nationally significant heritage objects. In legislating for a fund to assist with purchase in this sense then yes the Act provided some safety to those vehicles, and one other – the Holden 'No.1 Prototype', acquired by the  National Museum of Australia in 2004. However the Account has apparently only secured 3 motor vehicles, of the 59 objects the Account has assisted with purchases between 2001 and 2015 10 are road going vehicles – the 3 motor cars, 6 steam traction engines and 1 oil engine tractor. (ref:

The Holden, Innes and Alfa though are not really examples of protection by denial of an export permit under the Act. For the Innes no export permit was applied for, for the Alfa the Account assisted purchase averted the need for export, and similarly there presumably was no permit application for the Holden. Had however the assistive funding not been made available would an export permit have been denied say for the Innes or the Alfa, something to ponder considering the existing criteria in the PMCH Act? There are vehicles that have been allowed export permits that arguably have at the very least comparable or equal heritage significance to those two vehicles.

I realise that I was not precise enough in the comment  “The old Act has protected a couple of lovely steam engines but to date not one motor vehicle, related artefact or historical document in 30 years!” I should have expanded that statement as I meant the protection afforded by listing on the Australian Movable Cultural Heritage Prohibited Exports Register which catalogues objects that are defined by the National Cultural Heritage Control List (Schedule 1 of the PMCH Regulations 1987) as Class B objects that have been denied an export permit, the Department’s webpage provides the list.

Not one motor car, truck (excl. steam) or motorcycle is cited on the Register of 95 heritage objects refused an export permit pre-2016 – though 15 are road going vehicles – 2 steam wagons (trucks), 2 oil/gasoline tractors and 11 steam traction engines – BUT no motor cars, trucks or motorcycles are listed on the currently published Prohibited Exports Register.

All credit to the steam, tractor and stationary engine groups for gaining some runs on the board with some traction engines, portables and tractors conserved by the National Cultural Heritage Account and/or the Prohibited Exports Register. If they have those machines thus protected from export it does beg the question - why no cars, trucks or motorbikes?

Considering the statistics above and the number of significant Australian vehicles now overseas, it makes one question the effectiveness of the old PMCH Act 1986.


Review of the Protection of Moveable Cultural Heritage Act 1986

Shane Simpson's Report on the review of the Protection of Moveable Cultural Heritage Act 1986  Borders of Culture was released in Canberra last week by Minister Fifield

The Report is online at  and seems to substantially formalise much of the 2015 Position Paper released and commented upon by quite a number of those involved with heritage and historic vehicles and automotive history at the various State consultation meetings, or the online Survey, or in direct correspondence with the Review staff. As well a number of the suggestions, concerns or validations raised by the special interest groups such as the automotive heritage sector have been taken on board. 

The Report is 198 pages, for those who want a condensed form read Simpson’s recommendations for a completely new and single legislative model for regulating cultural material leaving Australia, as detailed in Part E Recommendation - New Model, Section 45ff. of Borders of Culture.

Many in the automotive history community will be aware of significant or important Australian heritage vehicles and artefacts that have been exported overseas. Many too will have heard of the various ways of circumventing the old Protection of Moveable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 (PMCH) which has clearly been unable to effectively ensure the protection of some of Australia’s outstanding automotive heritage. An internet search reveals many cars, motorcycles, trucks, race cars, ex-WW2 vehicles, traction engines and stationary engines now overseas of which a number are uniquely Australia or have other attributes that firmly tie them significantly into Australian cultural and technological heritage. The old Act has protected a couple of lovely steam engines but to date not one motor vehicle, related artefact or historical document in 30 years!

Conversely the current Act is ambiguous, confusing and the procedures unwieldy and time-consuming for those legitimately seeking to export vehicles and artefacts. Of note to Australian automotive historians the PMCH Act should also have provided protection from export to significant historical documents, the old Act failed this on a number of occasions as print and photo collections have been sold and dispersed globally or transferred overseas.

An aspect that Australian automotive historians should consider is the importance of their research information in providing vehicle context and provenance for owners, custodians, auction houses, dealers, purchasers and those tasked with regulating the licenced export of heritage vehicles i.e. Customs & Border Protection and the Cultural Property Section, Ministry for the Arts and their expert examiners. Some vehicles have been granted export licence as there simply was not enough authentic information available to document the unique heritage value of the vehicle. More data, made more readily available will assist all to make appropriate assessments of vehicles etc. for export or not. 

It is a long journey in Canberra from review Report to, perhaps, the framing of new legislation. Those concerned about Australian automotive heritage could consider contacting and encouraging their local Commonwealth MP to support the Simpson Report and on their behalf make positive representations to the Minister to expedite the replacement of the current Act with the Simpson Report’s recommendations. 

Updating the PMCH Act seems to be a win-win thing – streamlining the export licence process and reducing the accidental infringement of the Act for genuine exporters while substantially strengthening the protection and retention of the important examples of Australian transport heritage.


D Wright advises two vehicles are protected under the Act, a 1903 Innes car built by George Innes and a 1923 Alfa Romeo RLS Queen that now resides in the Victoria Museum in Launceston. There was also an issue over the attempted sale of cars from the Parker collection see this item from the Canberra Times in 1982. I believe this led to a ban on pre 1912 vehicles, made or assembled in Australia, being exported see Press Release.


Auto Heritage Sites update

Following on from the Auto Heritage Sites under Threat Jan 07 2016 this might be another interesting item - Heritage push in campaign to save Mooloolaba caravan park.

 Personally can’t think of built-environment sites that are much more quintessentially Australian motoring holidays with the ‘van in tow than caravan parks. See link

 Interesting that 3 caravan parks are already listed in Queensland. I could not find any on the NSW Heritage Register!

 Jenny Fawbert Member: Automotive Historians Australia Inc. Society of Automotive Historians

Is Pagewood set for the chop?

Pagewood, opening day. Hood image

Pagewood, opening day. Hood image

Pagewood today.

Pagewood today.

Mosquito Wing

Mosquito Wing

Pagewood opening, Sir Robert Menzies CENTER. Hood image

Pagewood opening, Sir Robert Menzies CENTER. Hood image

David Francis, updates on the redevelopment of GM H Pagewood by Meriton

Recently the GMH Pagewood site had MERITON "shade cloth" around the fences of the southern section of the site. This is now completely demolished & leveled to approximately where the 'Boiler house' stood on Bunnerong Rd. Over Christmas I observed the Shade cloth now surrounds the entire site from Westfield drive to the northern boundary in Heffron Rd

 So ...That appears to be it!

  I contacted the Council & Was surprised to learn the Front Tower & buildings are not heritage listed.

 Pagewood was opened in 1940 by Prime minister, R.G Menzies & MD, Sir Laurence Hartnett. GM-H were already assembling, among others, CKD Chevrolet and Buick, as well as Vauxhall for domestic use before moving onto War vehicles & Mosquito plane. See Trove

Also find attached still pictures taken on the day by famous photographer Mr Sam Hood

 The local Botany Bay councillors & politicians have been asked to consider the importance of the

front buildings & towers and attempt to have Meriton at least preserve them. This is where history was made. It would be a shame to lose them. 

Automotive History Preservation Society

An American, Michigan based, non-profit organisation the Automotive History Preservation Society has been established (2010) to ensure the collection and preservation of automotive historical documentation, both current and past, in digital format. The online storage holds factory advertising, PR Materials, Factory publications and brochures for many cars sold in America. The site asks for material so there is no reason why it could not hold Australian material. The material is available to the automotive researcher, writer, educator, student, and the enthusiast, some is available openly but most is only available to “members”.  Membership costs US$25.

Material is easy to find as it is stored by type, then car line, then year.  Check it out at

By Norm Darwin


Bob Lamond of Piambong NSW, Brush enthusiast, plans a tribute publication, The Brush Runabout Everyman’s car 1907 to 1913. The work book will include material from Europe and America, including material from the Horseless Carriage Gazette collection.

Bob owns two 1910 Brush automobiles, one a 2-cylinder and he is keen to secure any relevant Brush material by 31 January 2016.

The publication will be available at cost plus postage and you can register your interest by emailing Boa at Lamond2 at


Auto Heritage sites under threat

Auto Heritage sites under threat

Emotive yes. Fishermen’s (please yourself where the apostrophe goes, everyone else does, but mostly today it’s not used) Bend has long been Victoria’s centre for automobile manufacture. From the time GM-Holden erected an assembly plant on a former golf course in Salmon street a number of other firms have gravitated to the area. Hillman, Humber, Sunbeam, Chrysler, Rambler, Toyota, Renault, Standard, Mercedes-Benz, Vauxhall, Bedford as well as Holden have all be produced in the area.

Now the threat of prime industrial land on the fringe of Melbourne’s CBD being sold to developers will possibly obliterate any evidence of auto production, particularly after 2017 when Holden shuts down (the Holden site is already on the market). The Age recently carried a story on the Roots factory that give some insight to the problem.  .

Already Adelaide has witness three Holden plants vanish. The Birkenhead plant was levelled some time ago and the site still remains vacant, all that is left is the mosaic from the foyer.

Birkenhead Plant mosac located in the admin foyer.

Birkenhead Plant mosac located in the admin foyer.

The Woodville site is now a hardware store and the King William Street factory was levelled a couple of years ago.

Fishermen’s Bend is actually not where we understand it to be today. Originally the Yarra went further north and curved to the South East. Fishermen’s Bend was located in the curve. A Sandridge Canal was proposed to run from the current Port Melbourne dock to Spencer Street but this was dropped in 1886 in favour of digging the current course of the Yarra. The diversion was engineered by Sir John Coode creating Coode Island, while the name survives the old course of the river was filled in and the original Fishermen’s Bend eliminated.

Fishermen's Bend c1946 showing former airstrip and Government Aircraft factory. 

Fishermen's Bend c1946 showing former airstrip and Government Aircraft factory. 


2016 Automotive Historians Australia Conference Announced!

We are proud to announce our first annual conference of Automotive Historians Australia. 

Make sure you put it in the calendar to get involved, and check out all the wonderful contributions.

Hosted by: RMIT Design Archives, RMIT School of Architecture and Design, and Monash University Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture.


Professor Harriet Edquist -

Dr. Mark Richardson -

Simon Lockrey -

Place: Melbourne, Australia

Date: 1 – 3 September, 2016