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Inept Government threatens world heritage

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Senator Meg Lees Australian Democrats Deputy L e a d e r and E n v iro n m e n t S p o k e s p e rs o n

November 4,1996 MEDIA RELEASE______________ 96Π2Β


TH E Coalition Government's cavalier approach to world heritage areas - coupled with a sad lack of funds - could seriously jeopardise the future of Australia's precious world heritage regions, the Australian Democrats say.

Democrats Environment Spokesperson Senator Meg Lees supported today's H ouse of Representatives Committee call for mere funding and development of better management plans for Australia's 11 world heritage regions.

"But funding on its own will fail to account for much if this Government's irresponsible, erratic and cavalier approach to world heritage continues," Senator Lees said. 'Since the Coalition came to power they have meddled in almost every area of world heritage, with scant regard for the natural and cultural values of the regions.

"We have the threat of more uranium mining in Kakadu and Resources Minister W arwick Parer suggesting to the mining industry that there is a possibility Coronation Hill m ay be reopened to uranium mining in the future.

"Environment Minister Robert Hill has approved the massive Hinchinbrook tourist development in, and adjacent to, the Great Barrier R eef and is pushing to rezone protected areas of the reef to allow the fishing industry in.

"The Queensland Government want to privatise aspects of management on Fraser Island and Senator Hill is silent W e still don't have a management plan for Wiliandra Lakes after 15 years and Budget funding cuts have targeted the management of the Daintree.

'T h e only positive move the Government has made is to nominate Heard and Macquarie Islands for world heritage listing. But at the same time w e see the catch limit on the Patagonian toothfish, found in the sub-Antarctic realm, increased from 297 tonnes a year to 3800 tonnes!

"They won't nominate other areas which the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has expressed interest in as World Heritage Areas - such as the Huon Picton Valleys and the Tarkine in Tasmania for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area - because the Government is too busy kowtowing to industry."

Senator Lees said that as the Government experimented and intruded on areas of world heritage, and proudly claimed it was a pro-development Government, the prognosis for World Heritage Areas was gloomy.

T o arrange com m ent contact Kelly W estell on (06) 277 3765.