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Thursday, 11 October 1984
Page: 2214

(Question No. 1563)

Mr Connolly asked the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment, upon notice, on 7 June 1984:

(1) Is the Government currently funding any surveys of potential World Heritage sites; if so, what are the areas.

(2) When are the surveys due to be completed.

(3) Will the Government make the findings public.

Mr Cohen —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

In consideration of potential World Heritage sites the Government is following the procedures agreed at the July 1984 meeting of the Council of Nature Conservation Ministers.

Under these procedures:

The Commonwealth Government has invited the State and Territory Governments to submit suggestions, with supporting information, for places to be examined with a view to possible future nomination to the World Heritage List.

The Commonwealth Government will arrange for the appropriate authorities to examine the places against the stringent criteria for World Heritage Listing.

Any consideration by the Commonwealth Government of the issues will involve full consultation with the State and Territory Governments.

Any suggestions for World Heritage Listing brought forward by other than a State or Territory Government will be referred, with supporting information, to the relevant State or Territory Government for comment prior to examination by the Commonwealth.

The most careful consideration will be given to any proposed world heritage nomination by Australia to the World Heritage Committee to ensure that the extremely high standards involved in this matter are maintained. A number of authorities may be involved in the assessment process-for example the Australian Heritage Commission, the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Flora and Fauna, CSIRO, particular State authorities and other experts in Australia and possibly overseas.

The Australian Heritage Commission has an ongoing program of studies of the national estate, including studies of some specific areas with a view to evaluating their heritage significance. Any possible nominations for world heritage listing that might be suggested by such studies will be dealt with in accordance with the above procedures, including consideration by the other appropriate authorities.

I am advised that the Australian Heritage Commission's present program of surveys and the proposed times of commencement or completion are-

The Wet Tropical Rainforests of North Queensland-completed and presented September 1984.

Geological sites, Australia-wide-to be completed early in 1985.

Shark Bay, W.A.-to commence in 1985-86.

Nullarbor Caves, S.A. and W.A.-to commence in 1985-86.

Naracoorte Caves, S.A.-to commence in 1985-86.

The report on Wet Tropical Rainforests was tabled in the House of representatives on 12 September 1984 and consideration will be given to making further reports public upon their receipt.