Unions declare a green ban in bid to protect John Curtin Hotel

Unions declare a green ban in bid to protect John Curtin Hotel

The Curtin
words by sidonie bird de la coeur

In a bid to prevent The Curtin Hotel from being destroyed, The Building Industry Group (BIG) has just declared a Green Ban to protect the site.

Green Bans are a form of strike action organised by unions in Australia, which seek to protect parklands, buildings with historical significance and low-income housing by preventing them from being demolished.

Over the years, Green Bans led by building federations have saved many iconic Melbourne landmarks, including Flinders Street Station, Princess Theatre, Queen Victoria Market, Regent Theatre, Hotel Windsor and the Royal Botanical Gardens. However, a Green Ban does not guarantee the survival of the site.

What you need to know

  • The Building Industry Group has just declared a Green Ban on the site of the John Curtin Hotel
  • The pub has recently been purchased by an offshore developer
  • Green Bans are form of strike action that aim to protect significant sites from being destroyed

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around Melbourne here.

The news that The Curtin had been recently purchased by an offshore developer, with the current owners’ lease up at the end of November, comes as a devastating blow to the Hotel’s hopes. The Trades Hall Council remain defiant that a Green Ban is a crucial next step in the fight for its survival.

“This Green Ban sends a clear message from Victorian workers: we will not stand by and let our precious, historic building be destroyed by international greedy developers,” states Luke Hilakari, the Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council.

“It is so important that we protect our heritage pubs and live music venues – not just because they are important heritage buildings, but because of their irreplaceable social and cultural value,” states Nicholas Reece, the Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne.

Sitting opposite Trades Hall, The Curtin is an iconic staple of Melbourne culture, being an important meeting place for unionists and musicians alike. Built in the late 1850s, the hotel has been both the site of many burgeoning social movements and a stepping-stone for emerging local musicians.

“The Curtin has a long and strong connection with Melbourne’s arts, entertainment and media industries through its role as one of the city’s most important music venues, but also in earlier days as a watering hole for journalists who would often score a political scoop over a few cold ales,” says Adam Potelli, the Regional Director for Victoria and Tasmania, Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.


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A historic meeting point for unionist movements, workers organised at the John Curtin Hotel in 1886 to unionise against the notorious sweatshop clothing company Beath, Schiess and Co. and Victorian nurses used the John Curtin as a meeting place during the famous 1986 nursing strike. In the 1960s, when the sexist law that women couldn’t drink alongside men was in place, The John Curtin welcomed feminist activist Zelda D’Aprano to lead the charge.

“The National Trust is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the union movement to protect The Curtin, another beloved cultural institution,” says Simone Schinkel, the CEO of Music Victoria. “The Curtin has been a community meeting place for more than 160 years. Our goal is to ensure that it remains a pub and live music venue, and doesn’t become a facade with a block of apartments behind it.”

“This pub is part of our city’s fabric and must be protected and preserved,” continues Potelli. “Green Bans have saved some of Melbourne’s most important buildings in the past and it is time for all Victorians who care about our heritage to stand together again to prevent The Curtin from being demolished.”

The Curtin is located on 29 Lygon Street, Carlton. Check out their website by heading here.