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The National Trust of Australia (NSW) is a community-based, non-government organisation, committed to promoting and conserving Australia’s indigenous, natural and historic heritage through its advocacy work and its custodianship of heritage places and objects. And you can argue that it is a distorted version, skewed by intellectual prejudice, pre-lapsarian, anti-urban nostalgia, survival bias, patronising sentiment and class-based taste.
In recent years, the National Trust has, with some real success, modernised itself.
True, there is still a rather smug, unreflective, low-brow anti-intellectualism among many of its older membership. True, the meretricious tat that you find in its shops is beyond parody and should be illegal.
It is entirely true and a source of great pride that nothing quite like the National Trust exists in any other country.
It's a marvellous example of our idiosyncratic genius.
Why would a second-generation Bangladeshi living in Dagenham want to be instructed about the golden Ham Hill stone of Barrington Court in Somerset? You could very nearly park the case right here on the gravelled drive.
(There is, of course, a very good answer to that question, but it's one a politically correct National Trust is reluctant to make explicit.) This argument continues with the line that, since the great bulk of the Trust's holdings are country houses from the great period of country house building – say 1500 to 1900, the implication is that the National Trust believes these are unquestioned exemplars of architectural rectitude and appropriate patronage. And the argument goes on that the settled gravity of the Trust's magnificence has tended to retard national taste.
The National Trust is hiking its membership fees despite a series of controversies over the way it has been run.
It claims the price increase, of up to £6 a year, will help to fund its biggest ever programme of conservation repairs, maintenance and improvements.
And since John Lennon's Liverpool semi was acquired, the argument that the charmed tastes of milord take precedence over suburban pop culture has lost some of its force.
Instead, the argument against the National Trust today is a rather different one.