14/06/2005 - 22:00

South West vision ahead of its time

14/06/2005 - 22:00

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

The vision for the Luke Saraceni-driven Vasse Newtown first surfaced as a futuristic educational, scientific and research-based settlement nearly a decade ago, as the brainchild of Perth entrepreneur Leon Ivory and farmer and property developer, Kim Slaty

South West vision ahead of its time

The vision for the Luke Saraceni-driven Vasse Newtown first surfaced as a futuristic educational, scientific and research-based settlement nearly a decade ago, as the brainchild of Perth entrepreneur Leon Ivory and farmer and property developer, Kim Slatyer.

Perth’s Slatyer family boasts several well-qualified members, including world renowned  ecologist Ralph Slatyer, foundation professor in Environmental Biology at the Australian National University, chairman of the Australian Science, and Technology Council, and Australian ambassador to UNESCO in Paris after the departure of controversial former governor general Sir John Kerr in 1978.

The partnership set about creating a mini-variant of the ill-fated joint Australian-Japanese multi-function polis and spent more than a year meeting heads of key state government departments, the South West Development Commission, and local government authorities in the South West.

Even the Anglican and Catholic education commissions were contacted to attract them to make Vasse Newtown a venue for teaching.

Meetings were held with Main Roads officers to finalise access to Vasse Newtown, with plans being drawn-up.

Under the Ivory-Slatyer vision, Vasse Newtown would become an integrated research and teaching-based community with 5,000 residents.

It was to have links to international universities and scientific institutions that offered external courses.

And it was to house Western Australia’s centre for viticulture training through the TAFE sector.

Messrs Slatyer and Ivory commissioned one of the state’s highest profile academic administrators, chemist Dr Don Watts, now of Notre Dame University, to fine tune their vision to realisable blueprint stage, and Perth planner Terry Martin.

Dr Watts, a University of Western Australia scientist and academic for more than 20 years, headed the WA Institute of Technology (WAIT) during the 1980s and was foundation vice-chancellor of Bond University on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

He transformed WAIT into Curtin University of Technology, played a key role in creating Bentley’s Technology Park precinct adjacent to the campus, and was adviser to the Queensland government in its bid to be the venue for the multi-function polis, which subsequently went to Adelaide.

Dr Watts’ blueprint also envisaged Vasse Newtown as a recreational and living centre.

Although the term multi-function polis was never used – primarily because of Adelaide’s failed attempt to make it a reality – that’s precisely what Kim Slater and Leon Ivory envisaged.

Mr Ivory, a University of Hawaii Business School graduate, hailed from a biomedical business background in New Zealand before reaching Perth.

Their original corporate vehicle was VRI BioMedical, the VRI standing for Vasse Research Institute, which was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in December 2001.

After being joined by Tony Barton, who provided VRI Biomedical seed capital through his investment vehicle, Australian Heritage Group, the trio spun-off VNT Pty Ltd to plan and build the town.

Mr Slatyer said: “I spent 10 years on the project but it was always too big for me, and in the end we had to sell it.”

The vision, the blueprint, and their plans were all quietly mothballed and nothing was heard of them until Luke Saraceni surfaced with a refinement of their new town concept.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options