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Wednesday, 4 May 1994
Page: 273

(Question No. 1279)

Senator Chamarette asked the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories, upon notice, on 28th March 1994:

  With reference to the answer to question on notice No. 281 (Senate Hansard 17 August 1993, page 141):

  (1) Have the Beeliar Wetlands in Western Australia now been interim listed on the Register of the National Estate by the Australian Heritage Commission (AHC); if not, why not.

  (2) When were the Beeliar Wetlands nominated for inclusion on the Register of the National Estate.

  (3) Is the Minister aware that the WA Department of Planning and Urban Development finalised its proposals for the boundaries of the Beeliar Regional Park nearly 2 years ago.

  (4) If the wetlands have not been listed, are delays of this magnitude a common occurrence, and are there any special reasons for such a lengthy delay.

  (5) Do similar reasons apply to the delay in listing the Leda and Ellenbrook areas and the bushland at Jandakot and Perth airports.

  (6) How many nominations received by the AHC have been waiting for listing for more than 10 years.

  (7) Is the AHC required to process nominations within any specified time frame; if not, why not.

  (8) Has the Minister taken any action to ensure that the AHC processes nominations for the Register of the National Estate within a reasonable time frame; if not, why not.

  (9) What procedures are in place to ensure that political interference by State government authorities does not impede the listing process.

Senator Faulkner —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) No. However, on 11 April 1994, the Australian Heritage Commission decided to enter the Beeliar Wetlands in the Interim List of the Register of the National Estate. Listing is scheduled for the next gazettal notice at the end of this year.

  (2) 1985.

  (3) Yes.

  (4) The Australian Heritage Commission receives a large number of nominations and cannot process all nominations immediately. Priorities for assessment must be assigned, and these are based on whether the area is under threat, whether Commonwealth decisions are pending, or whether the area can be assessed as one of a suite of like places, or within a more comprehensive assessment of an entire region.

  Processing of the Beeliar Wetlands has not been assigned a high priority because the area has at no stage been the subject of any Commonwealth decision, and the WA State Government has been moving towards the declaration of a Park over this area. The Beeliar Wetlands is a complex nomination. Investigation and validation of the claimed values, and selection of an appropriate boundary, has therefore been a complex and lengthy task.

  (5) The priorities in assessing these places were determined according to the above guidelines.

  Jandakot and Perth airports were placed on the Interim List on 17 November 1992.

  The Commission decided on 8 February 1994 to enter Ellenbrook in the Interim List, and gazettal is scheduled for later this year.

  While the Leda Area has not been subject to any Commonwealth decisions, the Commission is aware that the area is likely to be subject to development proposals, and for this reason has allocated priority to its assessment. If it is found to have national estate significance, interim listing would be most likely to occur at one of the two annual interim listings in 1995.

  (6) Fifty nominations in Western Australia have been waiting for listing consideration for more than 10 years; of these three are natural environment places. In most cases these nominations have not been processed because of a lack of a sufficient level of information supplied by the nominator or otherwise available to the Commission.

  (7) The Commission is not required to process nominations within any specified time. Nominations are not provided for in its Act. They are a mechanism adopted by the Commission.

  (8) Although there is no requirement to process nominations in a set time frame, in 1988 under a previous Minister the Commission was provided with additional resources to help process the backlog of nominations. This has led to a reduction in the overall backlog by approximately 60%.

  (9) The Commission is an independent statutory body. Its political independence is maintained through the appointment of independent Commissioners.