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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 1874

Senator KILGARIFF(3.33) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

In speaking to the Australian Heritage Commission report 1985-86, I would like to address my remarks to one specific aspect of this report relating to the activities of the Commission and its work with the World Heritage Committee. I note that on page 22 of the report, the Heritage Commission expresses disappointment at its lack of formal responsibilities in world heritage matters. Indeed the Heritage Commission indicates just how much it wants to extend its sphere of interest, and in the next sentence we learn that it wants to be able to nominate areas for the World Heritage List without the support of the relevant State and Territory governments.

Australia should, according to this report, make nominations to the World Heritage List without the support of State and Territory governments. This is a quite incredible statement for the Heritage Commission to include in its annual report. It indicates the lack of regard this organisation has for the rights of State and Territory governments to determine the future of their own resources. We have already seen that the Federal Labor Government is far more interested in grandstanding for the benefit of conservationists than protecting the legitimate interests of those involved in the power, mining and tourism industries and, most recently, the logging industry in Tasmania. State and Territory governments have been left out in the cold by the present Federal Government. Consultation on nominations for the World Heritage List has been virtually non-existent. In the case of Kakadu this led to a very public clash between Federal Government representatives and Northern Territory Government representatives before the World Heritage Committee in Paris late last year. It is just possible that this might have been avoided had consultation taken place and had the Northern Territory been given an adequate opportunity to have an input into the submission the Commonwealth had put to the Heritage Committee.

Given the poor record of the present Government where consultation with State governments is concerned, it should come as no surprise that I would be appalled by any suggestion that the Commonwealth should be able to nominate areas for the World Heritage List without State government support. Presumably the Heritage Commission would take this one step further and suggest that any nominations made contrary to the wishes of the relevant State would not be subject to appeal from the relevant State to the World Heritage Committee. Certainly the present Federal Government has shown no inclination to see that the views of State or Territory governments which might oppose the Commonwealth nomination of a particular area are represented before the World Heritage Committee. I believe the Heritage Commission has raised a very serious proposal in this report and one which should be rejected.

Question resolved in the affirmative.