Save Australia Hall

I congratulate John A. Mizzi on his letter (October 4) in particular for bringing up the matter of Australia Hall on Anzac Street, St Andrews.

When Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi recently visited Melbourne a question was publicly put to him regarding the state of affairs of Australia Hall. Regrettably he could not provide any comment and claimed that he was caught on the back foot. Privately, however, he revealed that Australia Hall had been the subject of some wheeling and dealing the outcome of which ended in vesting ownership to the Malta Labour Party as indeed was confirmed by Mr Mizzi.

The plaque on the front of the building reads: "This building was erected in November 1915 by the Australian Branch of the British Red Cross Society for the benefit of the soldiers of the empire". Wounded and maimed soldiers from the Dardanelles found refuge and were nursed to health within these walls for the duration of the World War I. What took place there earned Malta the appellation of "The Nurse of the Mediterranean".

As well as this historical background the building is in the style of British colonial military architecture and is a living part of Maltese history. As such I am amazed why Mepa has not scheduled this building as it did St George's Barracks in St Julians and the Australian Bungalow in Luqa.

I visited the site in September 2006 and was appalled at the ruinous state of this building. The manner in which it has been allowed to deteriorate is an indictment on its owners, the Malta Labour Party. One would have thought that a political party that aspires to one day govern Malta would be more sensitive and show more deference to the heritage of the people it is relying on to gain office.

As a Maltese-Australian I appeal to the Leader of the Opposition, Alfred Sant, Mepa, the Australian High Commissioner and the Friends of Australia Society to look into the matter not only to save part of Malta's history for posterity but also to further consolidate the good relationship between the people of Malta and Australia in a very concrete manner.

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