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Tuesday, 25 November 1986
Page: 3716

(Question No. 4661)

Mr Sinclair asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment, upon notice, on 22 September 1986:

(1) Did the Director of the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (ANPWS) terminate the Northern Territory Conservation Commission's involvement in the day to day management of Uluru National Park with effect from 30 May; if so, why.

(2) Has Commonwealth funding advanced to the Commission for management of the park been withdrawn; if so, what amount was involved.

(3) Are Commonwealth assets used in park management required to be returned to the ANPWS officer at Uluru, including the ranger and warden identity cards issued to Commission officers at Uluru.

(4) Is the ANPWS now in default of an agreement with the Northern Territory Government on day-to-day management of the park; if so, what action is being taken to rectify this situation.

(5) Was the Director of the ANPWS acting on his or her Department's instructions in taking the action referred to; if so, what was the nature of those instructions.

(6) How many people were employed by the Commonwealth or its instrumentalities at Uluru National Park on (a) 30 June 1985 and (b) 30 June 1986.

(7) What was the cost of employing these personnel in each instance.

(8) What funds are owed to the Commission in respect of its management of the Park for 1985-86 and 1986-87 and what action is being taken to settle these outstanding debts.

Mr Cohen —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The involvement of the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory (CCNT) in the day-to-day management of Uluru (Ayers Rock-Mount Olga) National Park was terminated with effect from 30 May 1986. This action followed the refusal of the Northern Territory Government to accept the new management arrangements for the Park.

As a result of the CCNT instructing its officers not to take directions from the Park Superintendent at Uluru, the Director, ANPWS, was unable to implement the Government's policies regarding the new management arrangements. CCNT refusal to co-operate in the new management arrangements seriously hampered the efficient running of the Park.

(2) The 1985-86 allocation to CCNT for day-to-day management of Uluru National Park was $700,000. Of that amount, three quarterly advances of $175,000 each were made and a final advance of $117,000 was provided to CCNT, representing a direct pro-rata payment for the fourth quarter allocation.

(3) All Commonwealth assets in the Park were returned to the ANPWS Superintendent by Friday 30 May 1986. Ranger and warden identity cards were also returned.

(4) ANPWS is not in default of any agreement with the NT Government regarding day-to-day management.

(5) In taking the above actions, the Director, ANPWS, was acting with the approval of the Ministers for Arts, Heritage and Environment, Aboriginal Affairs and Finance.

(6) At 30 June 1985, CCNT had allocated 23 positions for the day-to-day management of Uluru (Ayers Rock-Mount Olga) National Park. No people were employed by ANPWS at Uluru at 30 June 1985, whilst, at 30 June 1986, 8 were so employed. In addition, 8 Aboriginals were employed at 30 June 1986 on a work experience program funded by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations.

(7) Salary costs for the ANPWS staff employed at Uluru during 1985-86 totalled $57,607. The estimated annual salary cost for ANPWS staff is $323,000. As a result of the new arrangements, there will be a saving of $90,000 over the previous financial year in which CCNT had responsibility for day-to-day management.

(8) No funds are owing to CCNT by the Commonwealth in respect of management for that part of 1985-86 during which CCNT carried out day-to-day management and none are owing for 1986-87.