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Thursday, 8 March 1984
Page: 639

Senator COATES(4.06) —I wish to make a few brief comments on the annual report for 1982-83 of the Australian Heritage Commission. I congratulate the Commission on its work over the year. I particularly draw attention to several comments made in the annual report, first of all about South West Tasmania. I think it needs to be noted that the Heritage Commission's activity in relation to the saving of the Franklin River and the preservation of South West Tasmania was an important factor in that event. I draw attention to the Commission's belief that consideration should be given to the revision of boundaries to include a wider area. The Commission makes that opinion clear and I think it ought to be supported in that recommendation. Another issue to which it refers is that of the National Estate being constantly under threat. Rainforest logging is one of the issues to which it draws particular attention. I think all of us need to be continually vigilant about threats to both the built and the natural environment throughout the nation.

Despite the comments that have been made in Tasmania in recent days about the inhibition on development because of the existence of the National Estate listings, I suspect that the inhibition is not very great at all. Whether we like to think so, or not, the powers of listing do not mean that development is automatically prevented. Concurrent legislation is needed in some of the States which have not yet legislated to establish heritage protection. I regret to say that Tasmania is one of those States in which State legislation is lacking.

One needs also to draw attention to the very worthwhile Commonwealth grants that are made through the Australian Heritage Commission to State government authorities, local government bodies and other bodies such as the National Trust and the Conservation Trust in Tasmania to help in the preservation of important aspects of our national heritage. There is not time in a debate in which one is allowed only a few minutes to go through all of those valuable grants. They are generally small, of the order of $2,000 to $20,000. They are very worthwhile, but in the overall scheme of things not nearly large enough to make sure that the things we all want to keep are preserved.

One other issue that I would like to raise in this debate was referred to in the Heritage Commission's report a couple of years ago and I think was raised in the Senate on Tuesday. It is the question of Commonwealth statutory authorities and their funding for the preservation of historic buildings. A couple of years ago the Australian Heritage Commission referred to the post offices at Cambell Town and Oatlands in Tasmania, beautiful old stone buildings which were an integral part of the streetscape of those two historic towns. Unfortunately, in the 1950s and 1960s some unfeeling person--

Senator Archer —Vandalised.

Senator COATES —Yes, vandalised. Senator Archer agrees with me. They vandalised the facade of those buildings by putting on a so-called modern exterior that destroyed the overall appearance. The Australian Postal Commission would like to restore the original appearance of those buildings but it claims not to have the funds to do that as soon as it would like. I think the Senate, the Australian Heritage Commission and anybody else who believes that those two post offices are examples of buildings that ought to be restored should insist that action be taken to do that.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.