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Federal government duplicity exposed over nomination of N.S.W. rainforests for world heritage consideration



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News Release Federal Secretariat: P.O. Box E13. Queen Victoria Terrace. A C.T 2600 Tel .(062)732564

DAVID CONNOLLY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR ARTS, HERITAGE AND ENVIRONMENT

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DUPLICITY EXPOSED OVER NOMINATION OF N.S.W.

RAINFORESTS FOR WORLD HERITAGE CONSIDERATION.

David Connolly, Shadow Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment

today condemned the duplicity of the Federal Government in their

failure to nominate the N.S.W. Rainforests for World Heritage listing.

The Government must answer the questions:

1) "Why did the Minister for Environment, Mr Cohen, mislead the Acting

Prime Minister Mr Bowen when he said * 1 2 an approach was made to UNESCO

in Paris for an extension of the time to lodge the nomination by

February 1985, but without success1?"

’ "In fact the Australian Embassy at UNESCO advised the Federal

Government that the name of the site for consideration could be

submitted before the 31st December (1984), with the final documents

following when possible".

"Such an arrangement would comply with the formal requirements

of the World Heritage Commission Secretariat, and would also allow

the nomination to be withdrawn if necessary, before the Bureau

meeting".

"This procedure would have solved the problem of a delay brought about

by the need to put the proposal to Cabinet".

2) "Why did the Federal Government tell the N.S.W. Government that

they could not proceed with the nomination when clearly there was an

alternative option?"

3. "Why was N.S.W. not told that an option existed, especially in

view of the fact that the secretary of the N.S.W. Premier’s

Department,Mr Gleeson,in a telex to the Prime Minister's office , said

1 a delay would seriously embarass the N.S.W. Government in the light

of election commitments and resolutions of the N.S.W. Parliament

supporting the World Heritage nomination of the State's Rainforests.

"Both the Prime Minister and Mr Cohen have been guilty of duplicity.

Mr Cohen has consistently maintained even in a briefing to the House

of Representatives Environment and Conservation Committee that the

N.S.W. application arrived "too late"to be processed, and in addition

he was ill at the time. Documentary evidence now shows that despite

the clear desire of the N.S.W. Government for the matter to be

expedited and the willingness of the World Heritage Commission to"

accept an interim nomination without commitment, the Prime Minister

•refused to accede to the legitimate request of the N.S.W. Government

"While listing must be formally nominated on the behalf of the State

Government the traditional role of the Commonwealth has been that of

the post box in such matters".

The final determination rests with the World Heritage Committee,

not the Commonwealth Government.

"The Prime Minister and Mr Cohen have clearly breached accepted

standards of propriety and stand condemned for their duplicity in

this matter".