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Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Page: 1666

Senator Webber asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, upon notice, on 13 February 2008:

With reference to the World Heritage nomination of Albany Old Gaol/Amity Heritage Precinct:

(1)   Who were the consultants that prepared the nomination for the former Government.

(2)   Did the consultants identify the Albany Old Gaol/Amity Heritage Precinct as a possible convict settlement site.

(3)   Given that the above site is the oldest European heritage precinct settlement in Western Australia, clearly established under convict labour, why was this location not included by the Minister in the nomination.

(4)   Given that the Western Australian Government and the city of Albany have already approved icon heritage status to the Albany Anzac [precinct] (with state and federal funding) and the implicit relationship between the Albany Waterfront project and the Residency Museum/Eclipse Museum/Old Gaol Heritage Precinct, was the Western Australian Minister for Housing and Works, Heritage, Indigenous Affairs, Land Information, the Honourable Michelle Roberts MLA, and the city of Albany consulted as to the precinct’s inclusion for nomination.

(5)   Is the Minister now prepared to include the Heritage Precinct as an addendum to the nomination.

Senator Wong (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   The nomination was prepared by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and Arts.  The nomination was overseen by the Convict Nomination Steering Committee which comprised nominees of the relevant state and territory ministers, including the Western Australian Minister.  In preparing the nomination, the Department and the Convict Nomination Steering Committee drew on the expertise of over twenty experts in Australia and overseas.

(2)   Albany Old Gaol/Amity Heritage Precinct was not identified in any expert reports as a possible convict site for inclusion in the nomination.  A report prepared by Dr Pearson and Mr Marshall in 1995 listed Albany Residency, which is part of the Albany Old Gaol/Amity Heritage Precinct, as one of several hundred significant convict sites around Australia but did not recommend its inclusion in the World Heritage nomination.

(3)   While Albany Old Gaol/Amity Heritage Precinct is one of many important convict sites around Australia, it would not meet the rigorous technical requirements of a World Heritage place.  In particular, a World Heritage place must ‘demonstrate that it is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations for all humanity’.  The Convict Nomination Steering Committee and Australian and international experts, in the context of the nomination, did not assess Albany Old Gaol/Amity Heritage Precinct to be one of Australia’s outstanding examples of the forced migration of convicts or of global developments in the punishment of crime during the 19th century. 

(4)   The Western Australian Department of Housing and Works was represented on the Convict Nomination Steering Committee.  The Western Australian Minister for Housing and Works, the Hon Michelle Roberts MLA, endorsed the eleven nominated sites in 2006 and supported the submission of the nomination in 2007.  Community consultations for the nomination, which were arranged by the Western Australian Government, were conducted at Fremantle in May 2007. The City of Albany did not attend these consultations and has not made any representations to me or, to my department’s knowledge, any former ministers about the Albany Old Gaol/Amity Heritage Precinct.

(5)   Albany Old Gaol/Amity Heritage Precinct will not be included in the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage nomination as it does not meet UNESCO’s technical requirements for World Heritage places.