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Kimbereley heritage lisitng leaves stakeholders in the dark.

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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Federal Liberal Member for Murray

Monday, 4 August 2008

Kimberley heritage listing leaves stakeholders in the dark

It seems that the people who live and breath the daily concerns of the Kimberley region are the last to be consulted on the future of the 17 million hectares Environment Minister Peter Garrett would like to see on the National Heritage List.

According to Dr Sharman Stone, Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage, the Arts and Indigenous Affairs, the pastoralists, mining and gas enterprises, indigenous communities, tourist operators and local councils have been left to trawl government web sites for information, and have discovered they have until the August 7 to make public comment.

“Unfortunately any submissions will have to be made in a vacuum, without the stakeholders and local communities knowing what the National Heritage listing could mean in relation to current and future development in the area, the resources that might be made available to deliver any changed use and/or future management arrangements.

“The Rudd Labor Government has been keen to announce new areas of national heritage significance, for example the recently proclaimed Myall Creek Massacre site in NSW. However, it is much less likely to commit a red cent to the management, interpretation or protection of anything on the list.

“The old Echuca Wharf in Victoria, for example, is now on the National Heritage list. It is also estimated that it will fall down in five years without an injection of $5 million to replace rotted red-gum timbers. Unfortunately there is no federal (or state) financial

commitment, even when there is no other source of funding.

“The Kimberley’s 17 million hectares are undoubtedly a national treasure. They are also a vital part of the WA economy, with some of the greatest mineral and gas prospects and one of the oldest pastoral industries located in the region.

“Minister Garrett needs to carefully and honestly communicate with the mixed and varied interests representing this region. He needs to put a detailed proposition before the people and enterprises who will potentially be affected by any change in land use. He needs to identify and commit to any resources needed to fund such a proposal.

“Symbolic gestures are easy. The hard part is delivering what is best for the region, and for the nation,“ Dr Stone said.

MEDIA CONTACT: Robert Hardie 0418 432 909