Save Search

Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download PDFDownload PDF 

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Environment and Communications Legislation Committee - 14/02/2012 - Estimates - SUSTAINABILITY, ENVIRONMENT, WATER, POPULATION AND COMMUNITIES PORTFOLIO

SUSTAINABILITY, ENVIRONMENT, WATER, POPULATION AND COMMUNITIES PORTFOLIO

In Attendance

Senator Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

Senator Farrell, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Executive

Dr Paul Grimes, Secretary

Mr Malcolm Thompson, Deputy Secretary

Mr David Parker, Deputy Secretary

Ms Kimberley Dripps, Deputy Secretary

Australian Antarctic Division

Dr Tony Fleming, Director

Dr Rob Wooding, General Manager, Support Centre

Dr Nick Gales, Acting Chief Scientist

Mr Matthew Sutton, Finance Manager

Environment Assessment and Compliance Division

Mr Dean Knudson, First Assistant Secretary

Ms Carolyn Cameron, Assistant Secretary, Strategic Approaches Branch

Ms Mary Colreavy, Assistant Secretary, Queensland Taskforce

Mr Michael Ward, Acting Assistant Secretary, Environment Assessment Branch 1

Ms Adrienne Lea, Assistant Secretary, Environment Assessment Branch 2

Ms Charmayne Murray, Acting Assistant Secretary, Environment Assessment Branch 3

Mr James Barker, Assistant Secretary, Compliance and Enforcement Branch

Regulatory Reform Taskforce

Mr Peter Burnett, First Assistant Secretary

Land and Coasts Division

Mr Sean Sullivan, First Assistant Secretary, Land and Coasts Division

Mr Mark Flanigan, First Assistant Secretary, Land Sector Taskforce

Mr James Shevlin, First Assistant Secretary, Tasmanian Forest Taskforce

Ms Peta Lane, Acting Assistant Secretary, Land Sector Taskforce

Dr Charlie Zammit, Assistant Secretary, Biodiversity Conservation Branch

Mr Bruce Edwards, Assista nt Secretary, Indigenous Policy Branch

Dr Paul Salmond, Assistant Secretary, Policy and People Branch

Ms Claire Howlett, Assistant Secretary, Finance and Aquatics Branch

Corporate Strategies Division

Ms Dianne Carlos, Chief Operating Officer

Ms Lily Viertmann, Chief Financial Officer, Financial Services Branch

Mr Al Blake, Assistant Secretary, Information Technology Branch

Environment Quality Division

Dr Diana Wright, First Assistant Secretary

Heritage and Wildlife Division

Mr Paul Murphy, Acting First Assistant Secretary

Mr Theo Hooy, Assistant Secretary, Heritage South Branch

Dr Kathryn Collins, Assistant Secretary, Business Systems and Governance Branch

Ms Jennifer Carter, Acting Assistant Secretary

Ms Deb Callister, Assistant Secretary, Wildlife Branch

Sustainability Policy and Analysis Division

Ms Mary Wiley-Smith, Acting First Assistant Secretary

Mr Sebastian Lang, Acting Assistant Secretary, Environment Research and Information Branch

Marine Division

Ms Donna Petrachenko, Chief Advisor International Biodiversity and Sustainability and Australia’s Commissioner to the IWC

Ms Lara Musgrave, Assistant Secretary, Tropical Marine Conservation Branch

Mr Charlton Clark, Assistant Secretary, Temperate Marine Conservation Branch

Ms Chris Schweizer, Assistant Secretary, Marine Initiatives Branch

Mr Nigel Routh, Assistant Secretary, Marine Biodiversity Policy Branch

Parks Australia Division

Mr Peter Cochrane, Director of National Parks

Policy and Communications Division

Mr James Shevlin, First Assistant Secretary

Ms Rachel Parry, Assistant Secretary, Communications and Ministerial Services Branch

Mr Andrew McNee, Assistant Secretary, Strategic Advice Branch

Supervising Scientist Division

Mr Richard McAllister, Acting Supervising Scientist

Mr Keith Tayler, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of the Supervising Scientist

Water Efficiency Division

Ms Mary Harwood, First Assistant Secretary

Mr Colin Mues, Assistant Secretary, Water Recovery Branch

Mr Richard McLoughlin, Assistant Secretary, Irrigation Efficiency Northern Branch

Ms Lucy Vincent, Assistant Secretary, Basin Communities and On-Farm Branch

Water Governance Division

Mr Ian Robinson, First Assistant Secretary

Mr Craig Bradley, Acting Assistant Secretary, Urban Water Security Branch

Mr Graeme Marshall, Assistant Secretary, Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Branch

Mr John Robertson, Assistant Secretary, Project Management and Governance Branch

Water Reform Division

Mr Tony Slatyer, First Assistant Secretary

Mr Tim Fisher, Assistant Secretary, Murray-Darling Basin Reform Branch

Ms Tanja Cvijanovic, Assistant Secretary, Water Policy Branch

Mr Greg Manning, Assistant Secretary, Aquatic Systems Policy Branch

Mr Aidan Dalgliesh, Assistant Secretary, National Water Market System Branch

Commonwealth Environmental Water Office

Mr Ian Robinson, Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder

Mr Steve Costello, Assistant Secretary, Policy and Portfolio Management

Dr Simon Banks, Assistant Secretary, Environmental Water Delivery Branch

Office of Water Science

Ms Alex Rankin, First Assistant Secretary

Bureau of Meteorology

Dr Rob Vertessy, Acting Director of Meteorology

Dr Neville Smith, Deputy Director, Research and Systems

Dr Ray Canterford, Deputy Director, Services

Dr Dasarath Jayasuriya, Acting Deputy Director, Climate and Water

Ms Vicki Middleton, Deputy Director, Corporate

Mr Trevor Plowman, Assistant Director, Finance and Budgets

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Dr Russell Reichelt, Chairman

Mr Peter McGinnity, General Manager, Environment and Sustainability

Ms Margaret Johnson, General Manager, Communication and Policy Coordination

Mr Bruce Elliot, General Manager, Corporate Services

Mr Andrew Skeat, General Manager, Marine Park Management

Murray Darling Basin Authority

Dr Rhondda Dickson, Chief Executive

Dr Fraser MacLeod, Executive Director, Information and Compliance Division

Dr Tony McLeod, General Manager, Water Planning

Mr Russell James, Acting Executive Director, Basin Plan Policy Development

Mr Frank Nicholas, Executive Director, Corporate Services

Ms Jody Swirepik, Executive Director, Natural Resource Management

Mr David Dreverman, Executive Director, River Murray

National Water Commission

Mr James Cameron, Chief Executive Officer

Ms Kerry Olsson, Acting Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Sydney Harbour Federation Trust

Mr Geoff Bailey, Executive Director

Committee met at 09:01

CHAIR ( Senator Cameron ): I declare open this public hearing of the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee. The committee will continue its examination of the Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities portfolio. The committee has set Friday, 30 March 2012 as the date by which answers to questions on notice are to be returned. Under standing order 26, the committee must take all evidence in public session. This includes answers to questions on notice. Officers and senators are familiar with the rules of the Senate governing estimates hearings. If you need assistance the secretariat has copies of the rules.

I draw the attention of witnesses to an order of the Senate of 13 May 2009 specifying the process by which a claim of public interest immunity should be raised and which I now incorporate in Hansard.

The extract read as follows—

Public interest immunity claims

That the Senate—

(a) notes that ministers and officers have continued to refuse to provide information to Senate committees without properly raising claims of public interest immunity as required by past resolutions of the Senate;

(b) reaffirms the principles of past resolutions of the Senate by this order, to provide ministers and officers with guidance as to the proper process for raising public interest immunity claims and to consolidate those past resolutions of the Senate;

(c) orders that the following operate as an order of continuing effect:

(1) If:

(a) a Senate committee, or a senator in the course of proceedings of a committee, requests information or a document from a Commonwealth department or agency; and

(b) an officer of the department or agency to whom the request is directed believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the officer shall state to the committee the ground on which the officer believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, and specify the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

(2) If, after receiving the officer’s statement under paragraph (1), the committee or the senator requests the officer to refer the question of the disclosure of the information or document to a responsible minister, the officer shall refer that question to the minister.

(3) If a minister, on a reference by an officer under paragraph (2), concludes that it would not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the minister shall provide to the committee a statement of the ground for that conclusion, specifying the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

(4) A minister, in a statement under paragraph (3), shall indicate whether the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee could result only from the publication of the information or document by the committee, or could result, equally or in part, from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee as in camera evidence.

(5) If, after considering a statement by a minister provided under paragraph (3), the committee concludes that the statement does not sufficiently justify the withholding of the information or document from the committee, the committee shall report the matter to the Senate.

(6) A decision by a committee not to report a matter to the Senate under paragraph (5) does not prevent a senator from raising the matter in the Senate in accordance with other procedures of the Senate.

(7) A statement that information or a document is not published, or is confidential, or consists of advice to, or internal deliberations of, government, in the absence of specification of the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document, is not a statement that meets the requirements of paragraph (I) or (4).

(8) If a minister concludes that a statement under paragraph (3) should more appropriately be made by the head of an agency, by reason of the independence of that agency from ministerial direction or control, the minister shall inform the committee of that conclusion and the reason for that conclusion, and shall refer the matter to the head of the agency, who shall then be required to provide a statement in accordance with paragraph (3).

(Extract, Senate Standing Orders, pp 124-125)

I welcome Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and portfolio officers. I call officers from the department in relation to outcome 5, program 5.1, conservation of Australia's heritage and environment, and invite questions.

Senator BIRMINGHAM: I want to turn to a couple of answers to questions on notice in relation to heritage matters, question Nos 171 and 172, which indicate that the number of new assessments added to the work plan of the Australian Heritage Council has dropped significantly and that the number of heritage management plans considered by the AHC has equally dropped. I wonder if I can get an explanation for this from the department, please.

Mr Murphy : The number of assessments has reduced on the council's work plan. There has been a tendency to concentrate on bigger and more complex assessments, like the assessment for the West Kimberley. There is currently an assessment for Canberra. There are still 27 assessments on the council's work plan that have carried over from previous years, so there is plenty of work for the council and there are plenty of assessments currently taking place.

Senator BIRMINGHAM: In terms of the assessment numbers and how they correlate to work—of course, it is hard for us to understand and appreciate the scale or size of the assessments—is there an impact here that results from the budget cuts that the heritage section has sustained in terms of the capacity to get this work done and to manage the workload in terms of heritage assessments?

Mr Murphy : The budget cuts are a result of a lapse in the program. The areas of work that have reduced are essentially our international engagement because Australia is no longer a member of the World Heritage Committee. We have a smaller executive group. We have reduced the number of senior executives from four to 2.5. We have reduced the operations budget for things like—there is less travel and attendance at conferences. There are reduced assessments—new assessments being added to the work plan. But, as I indicated, there are still plenty of assessments to do.

Ms Dripps : Senator Birmingham, you would be aware that the number of places on Australia's National Heritage List is approaching 100, so one might entertain the suggestion that a lot of work in identifying valuable places for Australia has indeed been done.

Senator BIRMINGHAM: The response to question No. 174 asked by Senator Waters, indicates that the budget cuts across the division have been felt most significantly in the heritage or historic division. Ongoing positions have been reduced by nine—in less than six months—at the end of last year. Surely that has an impact, at the very least, on the capacity to clear the outstanding numbers and deal effectively with those, if not to deal with new applications or submissions?

Mr Murphy : The priorities for assessment recently have been in places like the Kimberley, Jordan River, Cape York, the Tarkine. Those areas have a lot of natural and Indigenous heritage components—so we need greater resources in those areas—hence the cuts are a bit more focused on 'historic'. There is also a greater potential to outsource assessment work for assessments of historic buildings.

CHAIR: Senator Waters now has questions.

Senator WATERS: I apologise; I am a few minutes late. I have a few questions relating to the report to the World Heritage Committee, submitted on 2 February about the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area. There are some quite prominent mentions on page 2 trumpeting how fantastic the Queensland legislative regime is. I want to ask a few questions about that, because I have a different view of the level of rigour of those state laws.

It mentions that the Queensland state coastal plan 'prevents new development footprints in coastal areas'. Yet, clearly, under Queensland laws, it only needs to be taken into account by the decision maker and, therefore, can be ignored. The claims made do not seem to be borne out once an analysis is done. In writing this report to UNESCO did the department satisfy itself as to the veracity of the claims and those state laws?

Dr Grimes : It may be appropriate for Ms Dripps to answer that question.

Ms Dripps : The intention of the report to the World Heritage Committee is to outline Australia's legislative and policy framework around proposals for development of the Great Barrier Reef area and of management of the Great Barrier Reef area. We engaged closely with the Queensland government in constructing the report. I do not have the report in front of me to refer directly to the sentences which—

Senator WATERS: I have a copy here if that will assist.

Ms Dripps : are causing the concern. What we have done in constructing that report is faithfully represent the legislative framework that exists in Australia at the moment and describe how the pieces of that work together. In terms of its adequacy, that is not the intention of the report; the intention of the report is to present on a factual basis how Australia's framework of legislation around management of those areas works.

Senator WATERS: Thank you. I might just take you up on the 'faithfully represent'. I think it goes beyond that. You have described it as a 'robust' coastal management framework to 'ensure sustainable development in the coastal zone'. Yet port developments are exempt from that coastal plan and port developments and dredging are the very issue that UNESCO is primarily concerned with. Likewise, there is mention of the wetlands state planning policy, which also only needs to be considered by the decision maker. I put it to you that the government has actually mislead the committee in this report, given that the text is incorrect and suggests a far more robust protection regime than actually exists.

Ms Dripps : As you are aware, the World Heritage mission is coming from 6th to 14th March, and they will speak with a range of stakeholders with a range of different views on this matter. If that is their conclusion, then that will be their conclusion and their recommendations to the World Heritage Committee. It is not the government's conclusions.

Senator WATERS: I will move on. There is a subsequent reference in that same report which cites an article by Professor Pandolfi saying that the reef is the 'largest and best managed reef in the world'. When you look at the source for that quote, you will see that it has been selectively quoted. The full quote is:

Even on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR), the largest and best-managed reef in the world, decline is ongoing.

Those statements were made back in 2003 and Professor Pandolfi has made more recent statements. For example, in January of this year he said that the intensity of development was 'unacceptable' in the absence of a strategic plan and showed 'disregard for World Heritage requirements'. I think it is a little misleading, given that that selective quote was included in a section of the report which refers to 'contemporary management of the World Heritage area', yet the quote was from 2003 and the author has then distanced himself from those remarks. I wonder how such a selective quote appeared in this document that Australia has sent to the World Heritage Committee.

Ms Dripps : Is the question, 'How did that quote get selected?'

Senator WATERS: The question is how and why was the quote selectively quoted out of context and out of date; and why was the quote selected when the author has clearly stated an alternate view since.

Ms Dripps : I will have to take that on notice. I do not have that information to hand.

Senator WATERS: I have a question now about emergency heritage listing for Cape York. Conservation groups have submitted a request for emergency heritage listing for four areas on the cape. Obviously the area has a documented heritage values due to its ecological intactness and extraordinary diversity—it is a gorgeous place. In particular, the groups have identified six proposed mines in the area, and those areas have regionally specific heritage values, including vegetation diversity and wetlands listed on the directory. Does the department agree that these areas have heritage values?

Ms Dripps : As you aware, the department with the Queensland government is at an early stage of identifying heritage values on the cape, and the government has made it very clear that they would consider proceeding with listing those heritage values or nomination of those heritage values with the full consent of the Indigenous population of the area. That work is ongoing.

Senator WATERS: Would you agree that those six mining proposals present an imminent threat to the potential heritage values and World Heritage values of those areas?

Ms Dripps : My role here is to describe how we implement the laws and policies of the Australian government, so, in assessing whether those mines would have an impact on matters of national environmental significance, we will consider all things that are listed in those areas, including the biodiversity values.

Senator WATERS: Has the department turned its mind to that question yet?

Ms Dripps : To which question?

Senator WATERS: To the question of whether the mines present an imminent threat to the potential heritage values of Cape York.

Mr Murphy : The minister has asked us to do an assessment of the areas covered in the request for emergency heritage listing. We have not yet provided our advice.

Senator WATERS: Advice about an imminent threat is not being expedited?

Ms Dripps : That is not what Mr Murphy said.

Senator WATERS: Is it being expedited?

Mr Murphy : The minister has asked us to do an assessment in response to requests for emergency heritage listing, and we have not yet provided that advice.

Senator WATERS: Is there a time frame for when it will be provided?

Mr Murphy : No.

Senator WATERS: You do not know or you have not set one or the minister has not asked for one?

Mr Murphy : There is no time frame that has been set.

Senator WATERS: By the minister?

Ms Dripps : By anybody, Senator.

Senator WATERS: Is that response being progressed promptly?

Ms Dripps : Yes.

Senator WATERS: I want to go back to Great Barrier Reef issues. In the report to UNESCO that I was referring to before, the government talks about the 1,800 conditions that the Queensland government imposed on the three huge LNG plants in Gladstone Harbour and Curtis Island. Can I confirm that those were three very large industrial developments on an island within the World Heritage area with 46 million cubic metres of dredging approved to build those facilities with impacts on seagrass beds as well as turbidity impacts, which of course we are seeing roll out in Gladstone Harbour on a devastating scale? Can you tell me why these extensive conditions are supposed to put the community at ease? Why are we supposed to be impressed that there are 1,800 conditions placed on three massive industrial developments in a World Heritage area?

Ms Dripps : The number of conditions imposed by the Queensland government is obviously beyond our reach here. However, what it does demonstrate—and what the 300 conditions that have been applied by the Commonwealth minister on the projects demonstrate—is a rigorous assessment and consideration of the range of different potential issues that might arise from those projects and a management regime that has been put in place to enable an understanding of any risks that might be associated with those projects and a demonstration of how they are managed.

Senator WATERS: You do not think the need for 1,800 conditions would indicate that it is in fact an incredibly risky operation?

Ms Dripps : I think you are asking for my opinion, Senator.

Senator WATERS: Perhaps I am. I am clearly stating my own.

CHAIR: Ms Dripps, could someone update the committee on what heritage grant programs are available to the public?

Ms Dripps : Certainly.

Mr Hooy : The major grants program for heritage is the Your Community Heritage program, at about $8.4 million per annum. It has a number of elements. The major element of the Your Community grants is the National Historic Sites program, which is a subprogram devoted to the protection of significant historic sites around the county. There is an element related to recovery from natural disasters, which I think is self-evident. Another small element of Your Community Heritage is Commemorating Eminent Australians, which is primarily aimed at restoration of graves and monuments of significant Australians. There is a sharing stories element, which is aimed at community groups to tell stories that they believe are significant to their particular communities. There is also a celebrations component, which is once again aimed at small community groups to help them celebrate and promote their particular heritage. The last element is Communities Online, which is currently under development, the idea being that it will enable community groups to develop a profile online.

As well as the Your Community Heritage program, there is an Indigenous Heritage program. That is about $3.6 million per annum. That is aimed at Indigenous groups, to help them protect and manage their heritage. There is also a grants program under Caring for Our Country aimed at world heritage. That figure is a little variable, but it is about $14 million per annum.

CHAIR: How does the National Historic Sites grants program link with, say, Anzac memorials? Is that separate?

Mr Hooy : Yes. The Department of Veterans' Affairs primarily focuses on war memorials and commemorations of that sort, so there is a clear distinction between the two programs.

CHAIR: So if you could not achieve a grant through the national war memorials, do not apply here—is that the message?

Mr Hooy : I think so because if you were not successful in applying for a grant which specifically related to Australia's war service I do not think you would get up under any of our programs.

CHAIR: Just run me through the key achievements you want to get to on these various programs.

Mr Hooy : For National Historic Sites, the focus of that element is places that are primarily on the National Heritage List or places that are significant to the nation. So there is a fairly high bar for the National Historic Sites program. It is primarily aimed at conservation and restoration of significant sites, though there is a provision for preparation of management plans which would lead to subsequent restoration work.

For recovery from natural disasters, it is pretty much as it sounds. There have been a number of significant heritage properties around the country damaged as a result, primarily, of fire but also of flood. I do not recall any so far affected by cyclone where we have had grants or applications. But it would cover all of those.

As to commemorating eminent Australians, once again there are many Australians who are buried either here or overseas who have made a significant contribution to Australia and, in some cases, the world. Over time, those graves have fallen into disrepair and that program is specifically aimed at restoration of those graves.

The stories program is quite an exciting initiative. This is the first year of the stories program. It is aimed at community groups, to tell their particular story. The range of eligibility is quite wide. It could be anything from a migrant community telling their story through to a regional community talking about an eminent early explorer or what have you. There is a very wide range.

In terms of the celebrations program, once again that is a new initiative this year. It is really about trying to get the community to engage with their heritage. The focus is very much on small celebrations, local celebrations—anything from a 'back to' to a re-enactment, through to helping a community group stage an open day for a particular historic site.

As I said, with respect to the communities online, I think a large number of heritage organisations are pretty sophisticated. They have a good electronic presence. But some of the smaller ones need just a little bit of assistance to profile themselves, and that is a large part of the focus of that program.

For the Indigenous heritage grants program the range of grants is once again fairly large, but an example would be to help an Indigenous group protect significant artefacts that they hold. They may no longer be secure and may need to be put in a secure location—secure from theft or damage or just climatic factors.

CHAIR: I do not want the minister to go back to Bill Ludwig and say that I have gone soft, but one of the areas I have been concerned about for some time—

Senator Conroy: I have always thought of you as soft and cuddly.

CHAIR: is shearing sheds—historic shearing sheds and bridges. I used to be a country organiser, and I have seen some historic shearing sheds and bridges, and they have always been very interesting. Has anything specific been done in that area?

Mr Hooy : I do not recall any shearing sheds, Senator, but I will take that on notice. In terms of bridges, a perennial for this committee has been Richmond Bridge in Tasmania. That is on the National Heritage List and it is a focus of conservation effort by the bridge managers. Likewise, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is also on the National Heritage List, but by and large bridges are primarily of local or state significance and it is the responsibility of those jurisdictions to look after them.

CHAIR: I have stirred Senator McKenzie. As soon as I mentioned shearing sheds, Senator McKenzie lit up and she wants to ask a question.

Senator McKENZIE: Thank you, Chair. You did jog my memory. I was wondering about huts in the high country and whether your area has any oversight in that as a heritage priority.

Mr Hooy : In terms of huts, no, not directly. The Australian Alps are on the National Heritage List. The contribution of grazing to the history of the Alps has been recognised, and it would be open to an organisation to put in an application for conservation of huts under our program. The bar may be a little bit high, given national significance, but it is open to community groups. Likewise it is open to community groups to tell the stories of a particular hut and, at the end of the day, they can also put in an application to celebrate a particular history around a particular hut or even the restoration of that hut.

Senator McKENZIE: Similarly, when you were talking about communities accessing grants around celebrating their heritage and their specific cultural aspects, would a group like high country cattlemen or maybe the shearers of the first strike, et cetera, be considered a community of interest and be able to access that?

Mr Hooy : Yes. The application guidelines for community groups recognise a wide range of organisations—essentially any incorporated group. I would imagine that any organisation with an interest in the alpine huts or shearing sheds could put in an application under the stories element, for example, or the celebrations element.

Senator McKENZIE: Thank you.

Senator WATERS: The UNESCO mission that you mentioned earlier that is coming from 6 to 14 March—obviously nine days—I am interested in how much of that time will be spent listening to the concerns of community groups, environmental organisations, agricultural tourism and fisheries rep bodies?

Ms Dripps : I do not have the itinerary of the mission in front of me; however, you would appreciate that a wide range of people and groups are interested speaking with them. From first principles and from my recollection of the itinerary, most of the time is being spent with such groups including also managers of the estate—so, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in particular, and also the Queensland national parks and wildlife service.

Senator WATERS: Most of the time is being spent with those groups? I am pleased to hear it.

Ms Dripps : I think it is most of the time, Senator.

Senator WATERS: Great. There is a process now for quarterly reporting to UNESCO on projects likely to pose a significant impact to World Heritage areas. I am assuming that those reports will be made publicly available quarterly and on the department's website. Correct me if I am wrong. My particular question is: if UNESCO do actually wish to provide advice on a particular project, how will that be taken into account? Will they be advised of the deadline for each project? Will they be given an extension of the normal public comment period? How will that advice be factored into the decision making of the minister?

Ms Dripps : Obviously any advice that we receive from UNESCO regarding a specific project would be incorporated into the advice provided to the minister.

Senator WATERS: Despite the time frame in which it might be received? How will UNESCO be prompted to respond within the legislative time frames, or will they be given an extension?

Ms Dripps : The notification procedure is that UNESCO are notified when a project is first referred. That provides the entire assessment period for them to provide any advice that they might wish to provide.

Senator WATERS: So, in addition to the quarterly report, they are also notified of specific projects once they have been referred, where they will have a significant impact under section 12?

Ms Dripps : The quarterly report is on projects that have been referred that may have an impact on the property.

Senator WATERS: That is right. And did you not just say also that specific projects once they have been referred and found to be controlled, with section 12 as the controlling provision, are separately notified to UNESCO in addition?

Ms Dripps : It is the same thing twice, Senator.

Senator WATERS: It goes to the time frames. It goes to whether UNESCO has the time to respond.

Ms Dripps : UNESCO is notified when we receive—

Mr Murphy : The notification happens when the referral decision is made, in the next quarter. So every quarter there will be referral decisions made and if those—

Senator WATERS: When you say 'referral decisions', do you mean controlled action decisions?

Mr Murphy : Yes.

Ms Dripps : So the beginning of the process.

Mr Murphy : Where World Heritage is identified as a controlling provision, there would be an assessment required. So there is plenty of time for UNESCO or indeed anyone to provide comments during the assessment process.

Senator WATERS: I might seek some clarification in writing, I think, for later on.

Senator BOSWELL: Can the department provide details of all monies allocated by the department in the 2011-12 financial year for World Heritage listing and provide a breakdown of those funds, including the amount direct to non-Commonwealth parties, such as the Queensland state government, lobbying groups and other third parties? Obviously you will not be able to answer that.

Ms Dripps : It might be one best to take on notice.

Senator BOSWELL: The Commonwealth government has stated that any negotiations going forward in terms of tentative listing for World Heritage are dependent on the full consent and participation of Indigenous people in Cape York. Is the Commonwealth planning to propose a tentative listing of Cape York during this year or the next financial year?

Mr Murphy : A decision about when to make a tentative listing for Cape York has not been made. It may well happen this year, but it is subject to—

Ms Dripps : But it equally may not.

Mr Murphy : a decision about when the—

Senator BOSWELL: Can the department provide a breakdown of monies spent on the consultation with Aboriginal communities in relation to World Heritage, where and when those consultations took place and with whom, the amount spent on printed materials—and I would like copies of that to go to the committee—the amount spent on outside consultation, the process and their names? Could the department provide details of the amount spent by the Commonwealth developing a model of consent, including details of consultants, and provide the committee with material relating to the government's development of the consent models?

Ms Dripps : We can provide you an update on Cape York consultations that will touch on those questions.

Senator BOSWELL: My final question is about emergency heritage listing. Would the department seek Indigenous consent before any emergency listing took place?

Ms Dripps : The government has made it quite clear that it will proceed with any heritage listing of the cape only with Indigenous consent.

Senator BOSWELL: But I am not talking about World Heritage listing; I am talking about emergency—

Ms Dripps : National heritage.

Senator BOSWELL: Yes. So the government has made it clear that it would not do that without Aboriginal consent. Is that what you are saying?

Ms Dripps : I do not think that I have gone quite that far.

Senator BOSWELL: Well, what are you saying?

Dr Grimes : Senator, I think this is a matter that is currently before the government. As indicated earlier in evidence, the department is currently in the process of preparing advice for the minister. We would be mindful of Indigenous matters but there is also a whole range of other matters that would need to be taken into account. It is obviously premature for us to be expressing views on that, given that it is a matter still before the government.

Senator BOSWELL: But is Aboriginal consent required for emergency listing?

Ms Dripps : Not under the act, no.

Senator BOSWELL: Is the government going to require it?

Ms Dripps : I cannot comment on what the government is going to do.

Senator BOSWELL: Is the department going to seek emergency listing?

Dr Grimes : We are currently in the process of preparing advice and providing that to the government. That has not been provided yet.

Senator BOSWELL: Can you answer any of those questions or give us some sort of an answer to those questions I put forward?

Dr Grimes : On the more detailed questions you asked?

Senator BOSWELL: Yes.

Dr Grimes : We can take those on notice and see—

Senator BOSWELL: I know you can but can you give us any—

Dr Grimes : Those were very detailed questions in terms of breakdowns of expenditure. I imagine in many cases it was expenditure undertaken by the Queensland government. I might see whether any of the officers here have any information that we can provide right now.

CHAIR: Dr Grimes, it is just about time. I know your officers are quite detailed in their responses. I note the time; maybe it would be better if you take some of these on notice.

Senator BOSWELL: I will put them on notice but I thought they might—

CHAIR: I am happy. If you have a short response, let's do it.

Mr Murphy : We are working very closely with Queensland in their consultation processes, including country based planning. The minister announced last year that there would be $3 million to assist consultation with Indigenous communities. We are planning on commencing consultation in the coming months.

CHAIR: Thank you, Senator Boswell. We will have to move on now.

Senator BOSWELL: Thank you.