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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2447

Senator LOOSLEY —My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories. I refer to the significance of World Heritage listing for sites of unique international, cultural and natural significance. Is the minister in a position to advise the Senate of the process for the nomination of the Sydney Opera House to the World Heritage list? Can the minister offer an indication of a likely scenario involving an Australian nomination of this importance?

Senator FAULKNER —Australia's assessment of the Sydney Opera House and its environs for inclusion on the World Heritage list as a cultural landscape of international significance is being undertaken as a joint effort between the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments. This nomination is entirely the initiative of the Commonwealth government and, if successful, would make the Opera House the first Australian building to be granted World Heritage status.

  Today's announcement carries through a commitment made by the Prime Minister in launching this government's cultural policy platform, `Distinctly Australian', prior to last year's election. As the ministers responsible for World Heritage and cultural heritage matters respectively, I and my colleague the Minister for Communications and the Arts, will be working with the New South Wales Minister for Planning, Mr Webster, and the New South Wales Minister for the Arts, Mr Collins, to ensure that the nomination prepared is strong and comprehensive, fulfils the appropriate criteria for World Heritage listing of cultural sites and is completed in time to meet the deadline for nominations set by the World Heritage committee of 1 October 1995.

  The Commonwealth will today make available the first instalment of the $200,000 that it has committed towards the development of this nomination. The preparation of the nomination will take place in two stages and will be overseen by a steering committee to be set up by the New South Wales government on which the Commonwealth will be represented. The first stage of preparing the nomination will involve defining the area to be included in the nomination; assessing the Opera House and its environs against World Heritage criteria; and placing the nomination in an international cultural heritage context.

  It will also include assessing the economic and management issues and constraints associated with the potential listing and preparing recommendations for the establishment of a consultation process involving all interests affected by the nomination. Stage 2 of the process will deal with the preparation of the nomination itself and the development of management strategies for the area in anticipation of the nomination being successful.

  When prepared and approved by cabinet, the nomination of the Sydney Opera House to the World Heritage list will be forwarded through my portfolio to the World Heritage Bureau in Paris. I am sure every Australian will acknowledge that the Sydney Opera House and its historically significant setting on Sydney Harbour is one of the most internationally recognised symbols of Sydney and Australia.

  Senator Campbell interjecting—

Senator FAULKNER —The honourable senator ought to know, as the shadow minister for sport—you ignoramus—that it even forms the logo for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.  I believe this nomination will have a very strong chance of success. World Heritage listing will officially recognise that the Opera House and its surroundings is one of the most significant cultural landscapes in the world. I think every Australian, with the probable exception of one or two sitting on the other side of the chamber, knows and understands that that is the case.