The Mirage under the shade cloth is a RAAF College Parade Ground "gate Gaurdian" or display, and nothing to do with the RAAF Museum or its collection, nor is it the Mirage from the collection.
The RAAF Museum is operated and managed by paid civilian and uniformed staff from Defence, and do a wonderful job with what "we" the taxpayer give them to spend. Unfortunately the Defence budget is under constant pressure to tighten the belt, even more so in this financial crisis, and museum aircraft are not the priority over new subs, JSF's etc.
The Friends of the RAAF Museum provide a volunteer force for aircraft cleaning, and tour guiding within the museum, over and above the paid staff resourcing, and also do a wonderful job.
It is unfortunate that Point Cook has become a high security defence base again, with intended high cyclone fences and limited public access, it is not in the spirit of the outcomes sought and supposedly agreed by the last Government, nor even the Planning Strategies released by Defence itself in September 2007 which proposed public and defence precincts, shared civilian airfield use, and preservation of the heritage buildings.
Limits on photography verge on the ridiculous, a newspaper photographer was recently warned by the gate guard about taking a photo of the entry sign "outside" the base, (I was a witness to it), and after he rang someone to confirm!!!.
Public Access to the airfield, and the heritage is woeful, and the current outcome does not in mind comply at all with the announcements made by Government in September 2007.
As a taxpayer I am beginning now to question the logic of the relocation of resources back from Laverton, (an already high security base, with significant recent investment on new building infrastructure, to return those same resoruces back to Point Cook), I suspect the current Defence White Paper and Minister may now be doing the same?
I noted a State Liberal Party submission apparantly already making calls for that outcome.
Having been directly involved in the fight to save Point Cook since 1998 through the Action Group, with ongoing negotiations with the previous Federal Government through the Don Heyward Steering Committee of 2001, DFAD senate Enquiry, the Fran Bailey Trust announcement of 2004, and the RAAF proposals of 2006 and Government/Defence announcements of September 2007, it seems clear Defence is unable or unwilling to clearly articulate and implement Government policy, an acquisation made publicly recently by both the current Defence Minister, and also backed up by recent Defence Ministers from the previous Government.
The Federal Senate Inquiry into the activities of DEO at the time was quite enlightening, and that organisation under a new name as CSIG remains in control of the base through to today.
Parliament of Australia:Senate:Committees:Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee:Inquiry into the disposal of Defence properties - $PageTitle$
Mr Corey—As background to this, Point Cook has been an issue of contention politically at both state and commonwealth levels since probably before 1990. It was the focus of a study as to its future use in the Melbourne basin airfield study in 1989, and the debate has been ongoing since then as to what its future use should be. Defence is determined that its long-term requirement for Point Cook, in an operational sense, is that there is not one. We moved the flying school out of there some years back and we are in the process of relocating the operational units—the training units, the RAAF college. That has been approved by government and it will happen over the next two or three years. So the only Air Force presence, as such, will be the RAAF museum in the longer term. We have been dealing with state and commonwealth governments to develop a strategy for easing ourselves out of Point Cook for 10 years. But it has been brought into a whole range of
issues—like the National Aerospace Museum of Australia, NASMA. The previous Premier of Victoria, Premier Kennett, had some agreement to develop an option for a space museum or an aerospace museum at Point Cook, and it was going to attract half a million to a million visitors a
year. That did not happen. Premier Kennett withdrew funding from that project, so it died. A number of other options have been developed by the Air Force, principally encouraged by the RAAF museum, for future use at Point Cook. We have been attempting to come to grips with a strategy, at the political level, for 10 years—with very limited success, I might add. So the long term future of Point Cook—
CHAIR—That is an understatement. Ten years?
Mr Corey—The previous Minister for Defence said to me in 1995 or 1996, ‘This is your highest priority, Rod’. We tried, but we never got anywhere.
CHAIR—I never thought I would hear you say that before a committee of the Senate.
Mr Corey—It got to the stage where we said, ‘This is something that is getting very complicated and we’re not sure there is a way through it yet.’ But there are a lot of people who keep buying into this. The vested interests are killing us. Our solution is to put it on the market.
13 years later after the Minister's directive to the then Head of the Defence Estate (DEO) Rod Corey to make it his "Highest Priorty" and 8 years after this Senate testimony I dont think they have yet given it their highest priority or solved it correctly!
With an expected tightning of the Defence funding, there is now a great risk Point Cook will return to the sleepy hollow rustaway environment its been in since 1992 when its future was uncertain and there was no funding for its upkeep?
Hopefully it will survive the White Paper intact?
New Zealand recently closed their oldest base, even through it is the ongoing home of the RNZAF Museum, it will be carved up for housing, similar to the RAF Hendon base. We may have stopped the sale and bulldozing of Point Cook by DEO in the late 1990's but they are currently at great risk of achieving it through natural attrition.
An historic building damaged by winds through loss of a wall and its roof cladding over 12 months ago remains "as left" with not even tarpaulins to protect the internal structure from further weather damage.
The majority of the early and most historic buildings at Point Cook are timber and weatherboard construction, and have paint peeling to the point that there is no protection of the underlying timber, and rotted roof guttering and down pipes allowing water to directly enter the building structure.
Buildings (even historic ones) permitted to fall into disrepair become easy targets for the bureaucrats to demolish rather than preserve.
The building works urgently required today in 2009, are exactly the same ones identified in detail in the conservation heritage reports of 1992 and 1998 and not acted on by successive Defence and DEO managers at that time, despite Point Cook already being listed on the then Register of the National Estate. (RNE)
It has been subject to the new Heritage laws since 2004 with its then appointment to the Commonwealth Heritage List and reinforced with its 2007 appointment to the National Heritage List (a listing held up for over 3 years while DEO sought to knock down further buildings - Point Cook was one of the first sites to be nominated - back in January 2004!)
A more recent 2006 RAAF Heritage Council confidential report again proposed knocking down many historic buildings if the RAAF or Defence could not find uses for them, and taking photos for posterity.
Defence has made claims they didnt have a Heritage Conservation Management Plan for Point Cook (even testifying under oath into hansard) despite one being developed in 1992 by Allom Lovell, and a second appearing briefly on their own DEO website in 1998.
Today one finally exists, (as has been required by law for Point Cook since 2004!) and yet I have recently been told by Government that it remains "confidential" and apparantly unable to be made public until next year? I suspect that is so that a number of buildings can be demolished in the mean time?
- Point Cook is Australia's Most Important Aviation Heritage Site, and celebrates its Centenary in just 5 years time, hopefully it will survive intact to be there for the celebrations.
We are still in great risk of loosing much of Point Cook in my opinion, in terms of what it is today and what it could become.