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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2878

Senator ZAKHAROV —Will the Minister representing the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment explain to the Senate the reasons for the Government's deferral of its application for world heritage listing of stage 2 of Kakadu National Park?

Senator RYAN —As Senator Evans foreshadowed in the Senate on 25 November, the delay in the listing of stage 2 of Kakadu National Park until 1987 will not in any way jeopardise the protection of the park. In the first place, as was said then, the mere seeking of listing of the park for world heritage listing, which occurred on 17 September, provides the foundation under the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act upon which the Governor-General can issue a proclamation prohibiting any action that he has reasonable grounds to consider threatens the values of the park. This power provides sufficient basis to ensure fully the protection of stage 2 pending a decision on its status by the World Heritage Committee next year. In any case, in order to place the protection of the existing park beyond any doubt and to dispense with any further obstruction in the courts by companies or others claiming interests in the existing park, my colleague, Mr Cohen, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment, has this morning introduced in another place a Bill to amend the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act which will have the effect of preventing exploration and mining for minerals and related operations in the park.

Anyone who acts on the assumption that the Government can be dissuaded or prevented from fulfilling its commitment that there shall be no mining in the existing park is wasting his time. Equally, the procedural difficulty occasioned this week to the Government's pursuit of the world heritage nomination will make no material difference to that nomination other than to delay it to the next session of the World Heritage Committee in 1987.