Peter Walsh demands action on Rochester’s Random House

By James Arbuthnott

MEMBER for Murray Plains Peter Walsh has launched into the Department of Health and Human Services to stand by its commitment of putting the Rochester icon-turned-tragedy Random House on the market after recent vandalism.

Speaking in state parliament, Mr Walsh asked Minister Luke Donnellan for confirmation of the future of the embattled 8ha property.

“Despite the Victorian Government confirming in July the sale will be ‘finalised shortly’ Rochester residents have been left in the dark as the property continues to deteriorate,” Mr Walsh said.

“The Department has continued to neglect the property and the Minister’s lack of action has meant our iconic local landmark has been left vulnerable to vandals in recent months.”

The question to parliament comes after the Campaspe News received images of chandeliers smashed to the ground, holes kicked in walls through the hallway and dining room, and paint strewn across the inside of the entrance, hallway and main rooms, which were built in 1860.

The house was used as a wedding and function venue before its sale to the Victorian government, which bought the property with a Commonwealth grant in 2008.

It was then used as an Aboriginal holistic healing centre before flood damage saw the group move to Echuca.

Rochester House in its former glory in 1983.

Mr Walsh said the Victorian Government had let it fall into “rack and ruin” since.

“Random House is a treasured part of Rochester’s history and the community deserve to see the property restored to its original splendour,” Mr Walsh said.

“It’s an absolute plight on the community when there’s been so much pressure to try and get a resolution to random house. It’s literally been going on for years now.

“But as the government continues to stall on the sale of the property, Rochester’s beloved local landmark continues to deteriorate.”

And in a statement on the Rural Assistance Commissioner Mr Walsh said “Labor’s arrogant neglect of regional Victoria gets worse every day”.

“There will be a bit of paper somewhere in the bureaucracy that needs to be signed and then it will happen. I’d like the Minister on his behalf to move that paper through the system so someone can buy Random House and restore it to its former glory,” Mr Walsh said.

Mr Walsh announced the ‘imminent’ sale of Random House in July after receiving a letter from Victorian DHS confirming the house will go to market.

But after almost three months there has been no progress in Rochester residents seeing a ‘for sale’ sign.

Mr Walsh said his message to the minister is simple:

“Get on with it.”

In July Mr Walsh said Victoria’s DHS had “failed miserably” at preserving the landmark, which was vandalised in May this year and has overgrown grass and smashed windows.

Minister Luke Donnellan was been contacted for comment and has 30 days to respond to Mr Walsh's question in parliament.